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Government/Politics

Senate Gives Final Approval To Abbott’s ‘High-Quality’ Pre-K Plan

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Ryan E. Poppe
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Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to  increase access to Pre-K education is one step away from becoming law. The legislation is one of the items listed by Abbott during his State of the State address at the beginning of the session.

The House bill sponsored by New Braunfels Republican Sen. Donna Campbell would establish a high-quality Pre-K program, which was one of Governor Abbott’s campaign promises and stressed as a legislative priority at the start of the session.

“Schools opt in for additional resources by meeting quality measurement standards, this is not a mandatory, it provides them opportunities to attend high quality half-day Pre-K and achieve at the highest level,” Campbell explained.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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Lt. Governor Dan Patrick

  Prior to the bill hitting the Senate floor, a group hand-selected by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick called the legislation a godless bill, they believe was set up to force children into a state-run Pre-K program.

But Campbell says the bill would not create a full-day pre-K program and it would not be mandatory.  San Antonio Democrat Carlos Uresti inquired whether cities with existing programs would be able to participate and benefit from the program.

Uresti asked, “How does the bill affect the Pre-K program we have in San Antonio right now”?

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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New Braunfels Republican Sen. Donna Campbell

  “It gives them the option to opt in based on the quality conditions that we have set forth in this bill to get additional funding and it incentivizes them to agree with what we feel are high-quality measures,” Campbell replied. 

The bill would provide participating school districts an estimated $15-hundred per student enrolled in an approved Pre-K program.   Campbell says San Antonio would not be able to receive additional funding for the all day component of its Pre-K program. The total cost for the bill is estimated at $130-million dollars.  

The bill has one quick stop in the House where the bill's author, Kingwood Republican Rep. Dan Huberty must first accept amendments added to the bill by the Senate before being sent to the Governor's desk.