BEEVILLE, Texas — Earlier this week, Beeville ISD announced a change to its Pre-K program: it would be available to families in the district for free, regardless of their household income.
“You have these extra grocery bills, gas bills have been going up, and we know that can be a burden on top of daycare payments,” said Beeville Pre-K teacher Bethany Costilla. “So, the fact that they get a free education now, and send their babies to school at a young age to get a new foundation for the rest of their school careers, it’s going to be great.”
Costilla is entering her seventh year teaching Pre-K in Beeville. In her classroom, she prepares the students for kindergarten and beyond.
“What we like to do is give them strong social skills, because we are the first introduction to their entire school career,” she said.
The decision to open the program to all families in the district was based on feedback from the community, to get students into school as early as possible.
“We’re always looking for bold and innovative things to do in our community that will truly help our community, and try to better the lives of our students,” said BISD superintendent Travis Fanning.
Since the announcement on social media, phones at the Hampton-Moreno-Dugat Early Childhood Center have been ringing non-stop, with parents calling for information, and to sign their kids up.
Annette Sanchez, the principal at H-M-D, said one woman came to the school, to talk to her. The mother was just over the old income threshold to qualify for the free program.
“She literally came in crying, she was excited. She said, ‘I’m excited because I don’t have the money to pay tuition, and yet my kid is going to get the best education,’” Sanchez said. “So, we were elated, our teachers were elated, and we’re just thankful to our superintendent and the school board for going the extra mile for our kids.”
Sanchez hopes other local districts will see what BISD is doing, and offer a free-K program for their communities.
“We’re challenging other districts to do the same for their community,” she said. “They won’t regret it, and they’re investing in the future.”
There are 132 spots in the BISD Pre-K program. Students must be four years old as of September 1 to be eligible.