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TEA Commissioner Includes Voucher Model in TX Pre-K Grant Application

TEA has submitted an application for a federal preschool expansion grant and is calling the proposal the Texas Prekindergarten Expansion Grant (PEG).  The pre-k grant is not to be confused with the Public Education Grant (PEG) that allows students to transfer out of academically unacceptable schools. The grant will be jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grants will be awarded through a competitive process by mid-December 2014. The grant would provide $30 million per year for a four-year time period with the goal of expanding current pre-k systems. It is anticipated that seven to eight proposals will receive grant awards.

TEA collaborated with the Children's Learning Institute, and selected regional education service centers with the support of the Texas Private Schools Association and other groups in the development of four pre-k models included in the Texas application. TEA has selected 15 high-need communities that would be eligible to participate in one or more of the four grant models. These communities are within the following counties: Brazoria, Brazos, Cameron, Collin, Dallas, EastPoint Promise Zone in Brazoria County, Ft. Bend, Harris, Hidalgo, Lubbock, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Tarrant, Travis, and Williamson.

Model 1: New High Quality Slots
Model 1 is an "expansion" model with public/private partnerships in communities where population growth has outpaced public school construction. Programs would be state funded for the first half of the day and federally funded the second half so that full-day programs could be operated. Participating programs must sign an MOU agreeing to a class size maximum of 20, a child/staff ratio of no more than 10:1, and hiring only teachers with bachelor degrees.

Model 2: Enhanced High Quality Slots
Model 2 is an "enhancement" model only for programs that are already implementing a full-day pre-k program. LEA's that choose to participate will receive a reimbursement to pay for a teaching assistant or highly trained teaching assistant for each pre-k classroom. All of the teachers will have access to professional development resources being developed by the State Center for Early Childhood Development. 

Model 3: Enhanced High Quality Slots
Model 3 is an "enhancement" model for an existing program, the EastPoint Promise Zone in Bexar County. This will be the smallest of the four models. All of the teachers will have access to professional development resources being developed by the State Center for Early Childhood Development. 

Model 4: Expansion of High Quality Slots for Pre-k Program Choice
Model 4 is a "voucher" model, allowing parents to send their children to a high-quality pre-k program of their choice through a lottery application process. Only public or private programs that already have pre-k programs in place are eligible and must meet particular criteria. (Note: TASA was informed that the inclusion of a voucher model in the grant application was a decision made by the Commissioner of Education, and is NOT a requirement for the grant application).

TEA has posted the various components of its grant application. Unfortunately, the documents cannot be printed and must be viewed online.