The Palestine Independent School District has made pre-Kindergarten education a top priority, with full-day, fully-funded school classes to all four-year-old students who don't qualify for Head Start or other programs. The district estimates it doesn't serve pre-K programs to more than 100 students.

“Early childhood education provides children with skills to successfully navigate the academic path that lies ahead,” said Larissa Loveless, PISD spokesperson. “The district is excited to explore ways to increase the success of our students.”

The Palestine school district now offers pre-Kindergarten Head Start classes to three, four, and five-year-olds at the Washington Early Childhood Center, 1020 W. Hamlet Street. The proposal would enable all four-year-olds to attend the school, regardless of eligibility.

Studies show Pre-K programs improve students' readiness to learn when they enter Kindergarten. Other benefits include improved math scores, increased participation in honors classes, increased graduation rates, and decreased retention rates.

“I believe every child can exceed in life,” said Sheila Bradley, principal of Washington Early Childhood Center.

Parents are invited to meet Tuesday, March 5, in the Northside Elementary cafeteria, from 5:30-6:30 p.m., to express interest and learn about the registration process. Expanding pre-school is a voluntary program, based on parents' interest.

At the meeting, the district will gather information about how many children participate, based on their parents' interest.

Parents who cannot attend the meeting are encouraged to contact the district at 903-731-8000, with their names, addresses, student's names, and contact numbers. Alternatively, parents can message the same information via the district's Facebook Page.

Head Start serves eligible students, based largely on their families' incomes. PISD plans to fully fund pre-kindergarten classes offered to students who do not qualify for Head Start, the pre-Kindergarten program, or the employee day care program.

“Palestine ISD understands the importance of early childhood education for all four-year-old students in the district,” Loveless said.