Patrick Bresette

MISSION, RGV – An analysis of Rio Grande Valley participation in the Texas High-Quality Pre-K HB 4 Grant Program has been made by the Children’s Defense Fund-Texas and other education groups.

Established by the Legislature and Governor Greg Abbott last year, the new pre-k grant program provides participating school districts with grants for the 2016-2017 school year to improve pre-k effectiveness for currently eligible children.

Key findings highlighted in the Rio Grande Valley regional assessment include:

·         Ninety-five percent of Rio Grande Valley school districts surveyed applied for HB 4 grants to enhance existing plans to improve the quality of Pre-K in their districts. An overwhelming majority will use the funding for professional development and instructional resources, especially technology, and 74 percent will use it for parental engagement.

·         Every RGV district reported offering Pre-K programs for four-year-olds on 100 percent of their elementary campuses. Ninety-five percent of the Pre-K programs are bilingual; 60 percent are full-day.

·         The average ranking for unmet need on a scale of zero to ten, with zero being no unmet need and ten being a great deal of unmet need, was five. This demonstrates that although over 20,000 RGV children are attending Pre-K programs, school district personnel are aware that many more children still need services and one reason they for applied for HB 4 monies was to communicate that demand to policymakers.

·         The two RGV districts that did not apply for HB 4 funding reported that the amount they would receive was insufficient to justify the costs required to meet conditions of the grant.

“The new pre-k grant program is off to a solid start,” said Patrick Bresette, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Texas, a multi-issue children’s advocacy organization. “However, state leaders have more work to do to ensure that HB 4 is successful and that Texas pre-k is effective in preparing children, especially those in lower resourced areas like the Valley, to succeed in school and beyond.”

Bresette said the new report, titled “Analysis of Rio Grande Valley Participation in the Texas High-Quality Pre-K HB 4 Grant Program,” was produced with the support of the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (TEGAC). In collaboration with TEGAC, Children’s Defense Fund-Texas joined Texans Care for Children and five other non-profit, non-partisan groups working in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, and Waco to conduct locally-focused assessments of HB 4 implementation and community pre-k priorities for publication prior to the 2017 legislative session.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read “Analysis of Rio Grande Valley Participation in the Texas High-Quality Pre-K HB 4 Grant Program.”