SAN ANTONIO - Officials with the North East Independent School District are raising questions about the SA 4 Pre-K initiative.
NEISD is the first school district to voice concerns about the proposal, which would raise the city's sales tax by 1/8 of a cent if voters approve it Nov. 6.
"The superintendent and board of trustees fully support early childhood education," said NEISD spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor. "What they don't support is getting behind a program where some of the details still need to be worked out and some questions need to be answered."
Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said City Manager Sheryl Sculley will give a presentation to its board similar to one given to NEISD on Sept. 25.
"Similar kinds of concerns could be brought up," Gonzalez said.
Besides important details such as transportation, funding and accountability, Chancellor said a major concern is the initiative's possible impact on NEISD state funding. The district has already lost $70 million over the past two years.
Chancellor said most of its estimated 1,313 Pre-K 4-year-olds attend half-day classes that are state-funded. She said of those, 215 qualified for another half-day under the federally-funded Head Start program.
Chancellor said NEISD stands to lose some of those children to the city's proposed initiative that offers full-day classes.
"When you have a student who goes elsewhere, the funding for that student follows them," Chancellor said.
Assistant City Manager Peter Zanoni said those dollars would follow those students to one of four planned model centers.
However, Zanoni said 25 percent of the sales tax revenue that would fund the initiative will go back to school districts to pay for training teachers through third grade.
"This is a chance for us to put dollars back into the education system," Zanoni said. "It's not to take anything away from the districts. It's to add to what they have today."
Zanoni also said school districts could compete for grants during the fourth year of the program.
Until then, Chancellor said NEISD may lose more scarce state funds.
"We're not sure that every seat that leaves will be filled again by another student," Chancellor said.
San Antonio Independent School District trustees adopted a resolution in July endorsing the initiative and the proposed sales tax increase.
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