Full-Day Prekindergarten Waiver
Do your schools currently offer half-day prekindergarten (PK)? Are you aware that full-day PK for eligible four-year-olds was required starting in 2019-20? If your Charter District currently offers a half-day program, an exemption (waiver) must be submitted by March 2, 2020. Several steps must be completed prior to applying for this waiver, and CSS has researched and developed this “tip” to assist you with your waiver application.
CSS previously published a “tip” on July 23, 2019 entitled HB3-Weekly Update: Early Education, Pre-K related to the new Early Education Funding Allotment (PIC 36) intended to help LEAs pay for the transition to full-day PK. Now that the deadline is near, CSS is offering more detail about the waiver; in addition, we are offering a new Prekindergarten- Qualifications, Documentation and PEIMS Coding course to explain the many new requirements for PK this year – register here.
The Charter School Success federal and PEIMS team will work together with our clients to answer questions leading to a successful completion of the full-day PK waiver application and PEIMS summer submission.
Why is the waiver required?
The Texas Legislature wanted to display a large commitment to the importance of early childhood education as part of House Bill 3. The State knew that it was only providing funding for half-day programs, and Texas took a big step forward by mandating full day programs starting with 2019-20. At the same time, the State knew that most schools would not be able to switch to a full-day program that quickly, so they allowed for an exception process. Waivers may be requested under two circumstances called “exemption condition” in the waiver application:
- The LEA would be required to construct classroom facilities in order to provide prekindergarten classes; or
- Implementation would result in fewer eligible children being enrolled in prekindergarten.
The State also considered the impact of the new law on current public and private preschool businesses and allowed and encouraged partnerships with those agencies in order to meet the full-day requirement. In fact, Charter Districts are required to solicit proposals from partnerships and hold a public meeting as part of the waiver application process.
TEA published a memo on 1/09/2020 that is a helpful guide to the Full Day Prekindergarten Waiver. Please CLICK HERE for a link to the memo. At the bottom of the memo is a full list of what is contained in the waiver application.
What are the steps for completing the waiver?
TEA has developed a document called the Full-day Prekindergarten Exemption Process, and LEAs must ensure that they follow the entire outlined process when applying for a waiver.
Assemble a team and gather data to determine what will be needed in order to implement a full-day PK program. At a minimum the committee should determine the total number of additional classrooms needed to serve all eligible four-year-old students. Staffing costs and furnishings/materials should also be considered. Keep sign in sheets, agendas and notes from all meetings.
Hold a public meeting to solicit and consider proposals for partnerships with eligible learning centers (see link to Exemption Process above for eligibility requirements). All documentation of solicitations and attendance/activities at the public meeting should be kept on file.
Review and consider all partnership proposals and decide on whether to move forward with a partnership and/or construct, repurpose, or lease new space, or issue bonds to construct or lease new space. Part of a decision must be a timeline for this to be completed. The timeline will determine the number of years for which a waiver is requested (up to 3 years starting with 2019-20).
Take the proposal forward for Board approval. The waiver may be a part of the proposal. Waivers must be approved by the Board prior to submission.
Determine the personnel with TEAL access who will be responsible for submitting the waiver. Log on to TEAL in the “Waivers” section and complete the waiver. The user might have to request access to the “Waivers” application in TEAL if he or she does not currently have it. TEA will approve or deny the waiver within 30 days. The due date is March 2, 2020.
What other resources are available for questions about Early Education changes?
TEA has developed 30-minute videos and PowerPoint presentations called “HB3 in 30” to explain new funding sources under HB 3. In addition, directly below each video is a slide presentation that is an excellent review of the entire program.
- Link to 30 minute video: Prekindergarten HB3 in 30 video.
- Link to presentation sides: HB3 in 30 Prekindergarten Slides (waiver on slides 26-32)
- In addition, please consider registering for the new Prekindergarten- Qualifications, Documentation and PEIMS Coding course to explain the many new requirements for PK this year – register here.
- Be careful when selecting the number of years that you are requesting the waiver to cover. You will only be allowed to renew once. Subsequent renewals will be harder to obtain if you are not making progress toward implementing full-day PK. A one-year extension is for the current year (2019-20) and would mean you are starting full-day PK by the fall of 2020.
- If you do not currently have PK at all, the waiver is not required nor are you required to start offering PK.
- Half-day programs are still allowed for children under the age of 4.
- The Early Education Allotment (PIC 26) will still be received even if you receive a full-day PK waiver. 100% of it must still be spent on implementing early childhood literacy and mathematics proficiency programs and/or funding teachers and principals to attend the required Reading Academies.