TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Tyler ISD is replacing its Head Start Program with a full-day Pre-K program for the upcoming 2019-20 school year.
Tyler ISD Chief of Staff Ronald Jones said Wednesday the move is one the district has been working toward and that the district thoroughly vetted the idea.
Teachers and case workers employed under Head Start will continue their employment with the district.
“A hundred percent of them will retain jobs. It just may not be in the same capacity, but they are employed by Tyler ISD," Jones said. "No positions will be eliminated. None of the individuals employed by head start will not have a position for this upcoming school year.”
Those employed as social workers under Head Start, will do the same work with Pre-K students, Jones said.
What the district calls ‘wrap around service accessibility’ will continue for students and their parents. That includes connecting qualifying families to health care and other services like providing hearing aids or eyeglasses.
“Those types of services didn’t cease after a child left Head Start. As those students moved on, they still receive those types of services. That work will continue as we move to all-day Pre-K,” Jones said.
Head Start has provided children with early education opportunities for more than 50 years. The federal initiative began in the 1960′s when Pre-K and kindergarten did not exist.
The decision to eliminate Head Start also factors in new state dollars that now fully fund full-day Pre-K programs the same way all-day kindergarten programs are funded.
Tyler ISD has piloted four full day Pre-K classes at Andy Woods Elementary School. Tyler ISD’s curriculum and standards exceed those of Head Start’s curriculum, according to the district.
“It’s moving in a different direction that will give the district more discretion especially as it pertains to our curriculum that we will engage our students with in our Pre-K program. That will be a major difference from Head Start to our Pre-K, and that is certainly by design as we launch into our phonics-based reading initiatives and things of that sort to get all of our students reading on grade level by grade three," Jones said.