Pro: Pre-K education should be priority
Making early childhood education accessible to all students in Victoria should be a city priority, said Victoria school district board Vice President Bernard Klimist.
"We need to dedicate the resources necessary to raise our kids with the best education possible," Klimist said. "The place where the funding should come from is the state, but if that doesn't happen, local government needs to step in."
The state currently funds half-day pre-K, and the Victoria school district uses federal and local funds to fund the rest.
According to Victoria school district Communications Director Diane Boyett, VISD has spent $3.1 million on pre-K education in the past year.
The locally funded cost comes to a total of about $952,000, Boyett said.
"If we don't make use of our resources for early childhood education, we're going to pay the price later," Klimist said. "I don't like paying taxes any more than anybody else does."
Kristin Danielle Saldivar said her 6-year-old daughter qualified for pre-K, but her youngest daughter, now 4, does not.
The difference was her boost in income during the past couple of years.
"I was right under the income guideline," said Saldivar, who went from making $26,000 per year to $54,000. "Before, I was working part time and going to school when we qualified."
Saldivar said the cheapest early childhood program she could find in town was about $230 for every two weeks.
"It's hard for someone at my income level because you only have private and public to choose from," Saldivar said. "You don't have anything in between."
Saldivar said she would be fine with a system in which she had to pay little bit extra for a city-funded pre-K program.
"Maybe establish a program where parents could pay a reduced tuition and use some city funds to just get the program started," Saldivar said. "From there, they have to apply for grants or organize fundraisers for the program."
Victoria school district Superintendent Robert Jaklich was a member of the San Antonio advisory committee behind the program Pre-K 4 SA.
"We have all the research that shows the advantages of pre-K education reach far beyond the classroom," Jaklich said. "When students are school-ready, they are able to be successful."