SAN ANTONIO - With Election Day just weeks away, Mayor Julian Castro's proposal of a city-wide, full-day Pre-K program remains a divisive issue for San Antonians.
The initiative would be funded by an eighth of a cent sales tax increase.
Currently, many area districts already have Pre-K programs in place. Often first to face budget cuts, some districts have opted for half-day Pre-K, while some districts, including the San Antonio Independent School District, have stuck with full-day classes.
One of those classes -- at Barkley-Ruiz Elementary -- was buzzing with activity Thursday morning.
"I hear a boa constrictor," said an animated Laura Tristan, as she read to her 4- and 5-year-old students.
Inside Tristan's classroom, there is rarely a dull moment -- or a moment, said Tristan, when her young, developing students are not soaking up knowledge.
"We start right here. It's the foundation for their education," said Tristan.
Her students spend the day problem-solving and learning the alphabet.
"We do a lot of literacy, math, reading -- everything," added Tristan.
Even technology is incorporated, including DVD players and computers.
Perhaps most important, according to Tristan, lies with socialization as the young students learn to interact and share with others.
"It's good for them to come in and learn those base skills they may not get at home," said Tristan.
Currently, SAISD has a waiting list for Pre-K classes, like the one Tristan teaches, and students must qualify in order to be in the class. Criteria like a low income, a parent's military status, or language barriers are considered.
As for the proposed Pre-K 4 SA initiative, the city said its objective is making more room for eligible students to be in classes like Tristan's and raising the quality of Pre-K altogether.
Voters will decide on the issue on Nov. 6.
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