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Houston ISD leaders say they are expanding Pre-K classrooms, programming to help combat district's decline in enrollment – KPRC Click2Houston

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HOUSTON – Houston Independent School District leaders say they are expanding Pre-K classrooms and programming.
It’s one of the ways they’re hoping to turn around a 14% decline in enrollment.
Kallie Benes has a lot of great memories with her two little ones, but she says enrolling them in pre-k isn’t one.
“We were on several waitlists and looking at several schools,” Benes said.
She says a couple of years ago she wasn’t able to get her youngest into an HISD program that fit her family’s needs.
“It made it very difficult for families who are really in the middle to find quality affordable childcare,” she said.
Benes got her start as a pre-k teacher and continues to work in the education field.
“This is an investment, not only our school district needs to make, but the entire community needs to recognize,” she said.
HISD Superintendent Millard House II agrees. The district is investigating nearly $20 million on the effort.
“Next year we are going to continue to expand at other campuses where there’s a high need for pre-k classrooms,” Marisol Castruita, Early Childhood Director said.
Castruita says there are 730 classrooms, they’ve added 24 this year. She says data is leading them to add more in the central north part and west part of Houston.
“We have deployed 20 coaches throughout the district and they are supporting our campus leaders as well as our pre-k teachers,” Castruita said. “Regardless, if they are new teachers or if they are returning teachers we want to make sure they have that support there.”
They’re also adding teacher assistants in every classroom. They say the goal is for every school to provide the same level of education.
“We are creating that equity to make sure that balance exists,” Castruita said.
HISD starts accepting applications for pre-k programs on Dec. 14. There will also be informational fairs at schools throughout the district in the spring.
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