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.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.