Manor ISD proposes district-wide pre-K center to combat disparity

Travis County

MANOR, Texas (KXAN) — Manor ISD wants to hear from parents in the district about a proposal to combine two elementary schools and turn one of the campuses into a dedicated pre-K center to serve all of the district’s youngest students.

The idea is still in the early stages, and Thursday the district is hosting the first public town hall to gather feedback about the proposal before moving on to the planning stage. Parents are invited to Manor Elementary at 6:30 p.m. to share their thoughts.

Under the proposal, Manor Elementary would become the Manor Early Childhood Academy and students currently at that school would be moved to Lagos Elementary. District officials say neither school is at more than 50 percent capacity, so the combined school wouldn’t be overcrowded.

Currently, pre-K programs are spread out on individual campuses, and the district believes bringing them all to the same place will help eliminate any disparities that exist between schools and provide all kids the same opportunity.

“Manor is growing every single day,” said Nichole Aguirre, MISD’s director of early childhood, “and so that’s one of the conversations that we’re having is, as we build out this high-quality program and we’re attracting more families to our schools, how are we going to be prepared for more families?”

The campus would be able to support 700 students at the outset, enough for the current demand, with room to expand the campus “to ensure that we have space for everybody,” Aguirre said.

One of the problems the district is running into is parents wanting to transfer their young students to other schools within Manor ISD. The district created the Oak Meadows Pre-K Center a year and a half ago, combining programs for Oak Meadows and Decker elementary schools into one space, and it’s been a popular decision.

“Our center is pretty full already,” Denise Reynoso said. She teaches 4-year-olds there, and her 3-year-old son also attends half-day pre-K at the center.

Reynoso lives out of district, so she had to transfer her son into Oak Meadows, but the district says it’s now at capacity with 277 students. They’ve had to turn away more than a dozen families who want to transfer kids to the school.

“I feel like we have to find alternatives now because it’s just growing really quick,” Reynoso said. 

That’s what Manor ISD is trying to do with the new Early Childhood Academy.

Ideally, the district would like to be able to offer full-day pre-K to all 3- and 4-year-olds, Aguirre said, but that depends on what the legislature does. The State Board of Education adopted a long-term plan for Texas education in November, and the list of priorities includes funding for full-day pre-k instead of the half-day the state pays for now.

Districts have to make up the rest of the money if they want to offer full-day pre-K; Manor partners with Child Inc, a company that provides low-income families access to early childhood education, to offer full-day pre-K to some 3-year-olds, but the district would like to be able to offer it to all students.

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