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For the past several years, the Pre-Kinder program has been made available for a half day to the Donna ISD community. But, that will change at the start of the 2018-19 school year thanks to the work of many people.

DISD administrators have announced that a free, full-day pre-k program will now be offered at all 14 elementary campuses. The program will also be open to families living outside of Donna. The child must be 4 years old before September 1 to be eligible.

The decision to extend the program all day and at no cost to families is music to Dulce Castillo-Cruz’ ears. She is a DISD parent and employee of the district. “I think everybody is excited,” Castillo-Cruz said. “I’ve seen a lot of positive comments from people on Facebook. They’re tagging friends and letting them know. I know we were losing kids to other programs and I think now we’re going to get some kids into the school system. So, that’s going to be really good.”

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Castillo-Cruz said she will be enrolling her youngest son Luciano in the pre-k program at Ochoa Elementary. “I have my last son coming in this year so this is going to be really helpful. I won’t have to take him home half day and that’s really good for me.”

Castillo-Cruz said that was not the case for her two older sons Miguel and Lucas when they attended the half-day program at Ochoa Elementary. “It was an inconvenience for me and my boys. They were released at 11:00 so, they had to wait for a while until I was ready to get them. Now, I’ll have all my children here at the same campus. I’ll bring them in the morning and we’ll all go home together in the afternoon.”

Castillo-Cruz said a full-day of pre-k is important to her because of the benefits it has to offer. “I think we were cutting their day short as far as their academic foundation. We know pre-k and kinder are detrimental to their foundation and now that the program is full-day, we’re going to see some growth as far as their academic experience. I think it’s a win-win for the district and the parents.”

Lydia Gonzalez Lugo, DISD’s Director for Student Engagement, said going from a half-day pre-k program to full-day can make a big difference in a child’s education. “Research shows that a full-day of pre-k develops stronger reading, writing, math, English and listening and social/emotional skills,” Gonzalez Lugo said. “These skills impact a child throughout his/her entire educational experience. A child who attends a pre-k program is more likely to graduate from high school and continue with a post-secondary education than a child who does not enroll in pre-k.”

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Pre-k registration begins Aug. 6-15 at Le Noir Elementary, 316- N. Main St. However, people can enroll their child anytime during the year at the Student Engagement Office, 904 Hester Ave. Classes begin Aug. 27 for all Donna ISD schools. For further information contact (956)461-4322.

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