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House Bill 3 and Pre-Kindergarten for 4 Year Olds

Posted Date: 05/14/2021

House Bill 3 and Pre-Kindergarten for 4 Year Olds

This is the 3rd in a series of articles discussing the public education bills passed or pending from the 86th Legislative session that ended in May.  House Bill 3 is a massive bill that will transform many aspects of public education.  However, the most impact will be in the areas of teacher compensation, property tax reform, state-level of funding for public education, and higher expectations and standards for early literacy and numeracy in grades K-3.  We are awaiting guidance from the Commissioner of Education at TEA for many aspects of this and other laws, but with time ticking away every day, we must begin moving forward with the planning and preparation necessary to be ready for the kids when school starts in just 9 short weeks!


Having said that, today’s article will focus on the Early Education components in HB3.   Early Education is referring to the literacy and numeracy focus in grades K-3 in all public and charter schools in Texas.  Under new provisions in HB3, school districts will receive some additional dollars to focus on students in grades K-3.  These students must achieve high standards of readiness by the end of third grade in literacy and numeracy.  School Boards must adopt targeted goals and action plans to ensure that these targets/goals are met.  Pampa ISD already has a very strategic K-3 literacy plan that meets the letter of the law and we are working on the development of a similar plan in mathematics (numeracy). 


Research shows that many students across the nation show up in Kindergarten already behind their peers in readiness levels especially in the area of vocabulary.  To combat this, HB3 has another mandate----Pre-Kindergarten for qualifying 4-year-olds (must be 4 years old by Sept. 1).

Research also shows that students who have the opportunity to engage in systematic instruction before the age of 5 are more likely to be successful in school.  HB3 requires that public and charter schools provide free, full-day Pre-K to 4-year-olds who “qualify”.  What does “qualify” mean? 


Well, we are waiting on specific guidance from TEA; however, we do know that if a student is identified as “economically disadvantaged”, then they qualify for Pre-K.  For Pampa ISD, that means over 60% of the 4-year-olds in our community will most likely qualify if our data trends hold true.  So what does this mean?  Well, before we go deeper into the state-mandated Pre-K program, we must discuss the Federal Head Start program.


Pampa ISD has served over 100 three and four-year-old students annually who “qualify” for half-day pre-kindergarten at Lamar Elementary.  These students will still qualify for this program.  The Head Start program will remain intact for 4-year-olds; however, the 3-year-old program has been suspended for at least the 2019-2020 school year.  One change will be that these students will now attend for a full day instead of a half-day of instruction.  The Federal Head Start program, managed from the Region 16 service center in Amarillo, will continue to monitor this program in Pampa ISD and will use specific federal criteria to determine the “eligibility” of students for the 4-year-old Head Start classes.  So what happens to the students who do NOT qualify for the federal Head Start classes at Lamar?


Well, these 4-year-old students, MAY qualify for the state Pre-K program.  These students must meet different financial criteria that have not yet been determined by the state.  If you are not thoroughly confused at this point, we have another component to fold into this conversation.  In Pampa ISD, we have chosen to provide free- full-day Pre-K to all 4-year-olds who are the children of district employees.  This provision was in an earlier version of HB3, but it was left out at the very end.  Pampa ISD wants to provide this service to our staff, so we are continuing on with this plan. 


So, just to recap--- Some 4-year-olds will qualify for Head Start at Lamar, some will qualify for Pre-K which will be housed for the 2019-2020 school year at Austin Elementary where we have available classrooms, some will qualify because they are the children of district employees, and some MAY not meet any of these criteria.  What happens to those 4-year-old students?  That is a good question.  Honestly, we still don’t know for sure.  We should learn more from TEA on or before July 18, 2019. 


How much will all of this cost?  That is also a good question.  The answer:  It depends.  The answer is only known once we know for sure how many students we will be serving.  For this reason, we are hosting a PRE-K ROUNDUP ON JUNE 27TH FROM 9:00 AM TO 2:00 PM AT THE CENTRAL ADMIN OFFICE ON 1233 N HOBART. 


The information from the Roundup will provide us the numbers we need to know in order to determine how many teachers we will need, how many classrooms, furniture, curriculum, supplies, etc. to purchase.  We are anticipating the overall cost to be around $250,000.  Early estimated funding amounts indicate that we will in fact have just enough funds to pay for this new program.  We won’t know for sure unfortunately until much later in the fall after school starts.  So, in order to do right by our students and families, we are forging ahead with the plan! 


Regardless of the hurdles, obstacles, and unknowns, Pampa ISD will be ready on August 20th for the eager and anxious 4-year-olds in our community to show up ready to play, learn, and grow!  Despite the challenges, we believe that this is an opportunity to provide the children of Pampa with a more comprehensive early education that will benefit them for a lifetime of learning and success. 


If you have questions or just want to know more, you can go to   The next article will focus on teacher compensation.  There is some GREAT news coming for the teachers and staff in Pampa ISD! 


Tanya Larkin, Superintendent


Published on 06/25/2019

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