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Pre-K 4 SA Referendum Passes, But Not Without A Battle

Early returns had Pre-K 4 SA in a dead heat in early voting numbers, but votes supporting the measure gained ground as the election-day results were tallied.

  • The early education tax increase passed with 53 percent of the vote;  early vote totals showed votes supporting the proposition only 87 votes ahead of votes opposing.

The crowd at the Castro election headquarters was jubilant as Mayor Julián Castro said early in the evening that he believed the measure would pass, “and I think San Antonians have made the right decision tonight.”
The Pre-K program will add one-eighth of a cent to the sales tax charged inside SA city limits. The city will leverage those funds with state and federal dollars to build full-day Pre-K programs.

Opponents criticized the measure as being outside the city charter. Former mayor Lila Cockrell said she understands those arguments, but supported the city’s efforts because times have changed since she was mayor.

"The city in the past had very traditional roles," said Cockrell. "However, we’re in a new era in many ways. Out school districts are really handicapped by a very limited financing. For whatever reason, the state has continued to cut back while at the same time, adding more mandates for the schools.”

"You know," said Castro, "this was a great effort because it had some many folks, a cross-section of San Antonio supporting it, including all of our former mayors. And so I want to give a big round of applause to all of our mayors, including Mayor Cockrell."

Business groups supported the measure, such as USAA, HEB, Toyota, Valero, the Spurs, Rackspace, and the seven largest chambers of commerce.

The program’s promise is to improve the educational trajectory of 22,400 four-year-old children over eight years - and to train school teachers, teacher’s aides, Pre-K providers and education leaders.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.