Right now, the only way to get your kid into pre-K at DISD is to not speak English, not have a home, or be poor enough to qualify him for free or reduced lunch. This year, 8,991 students fitting those criteria have enrolled in DISD pre-K free of charge, a fair number but still shy of the 9,648 the district has capacity for.
To fill the extra space, and to bring in a little revenue in the process, DISD is considering opening pre-K enrollment to well-fed, adequately housed English speakers -- for a price. The proposal being considered by the board on Thursday would set tuition for those students at $7,350 per year.
That may sound like an ungodly amount of money to those of you who've never had the privilege of paying for childcare, but it's not. DISD estimates that it spends $7,820 per pre-K student, and, as the parent of a toddler, I can attest that the proposed rate is a pretty fair reflection of the market for preschools that don't suck.
Of course, DISD already has the infrastructure and staffing in place to accommodate the extra students, meaning that the tuition they pay will go straight to the bottom line, minus a bit of overhead. Based on current enrollment, the pre-K tuition proposal would net $4.8 milllion if all seats are filled.