Pre-kindergarten grant offers more opportunities

HARLINGEN — Jayden Cardenas is already using a tablet with remarkable versatility.

When he begins pre-kindergarten next year in the Harlingen school district, the 4-year-old may find even more technological opportunities — and challenges — awaiting him.

Those opportunities, which may include new iPads and modernized furniture, are being funded by a $585,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency. The school district learned just a couple of weeks ago it had been awarded the 2015–2017 High-Quality Prekindergarten Grant.

“I was ecstatic,” said Mary Alvarez, an early childhood specialist with the district’s curriculum and instruction department.

The money will be disbursed over a two-year period and will create many new learning opportunities.

“We can do lots of wonderful things, activities for children,” she said.

The grants are being made in response to House Bill 4, which was passed by the Texas Legislature last year. The bill established additional state support for high-quality pre-kindergarten programs. This support, says the TEA website, includes authorization for a grant program.

Alvarez says the TEA will send the district a budget for the specifics on how the money would be spent. However, she does know in general terms it will be used for professional development for teachers. The grant money will also fund additional parental involvement activities, enrichment of pre-kindergarten classrooms and the purchase of more technology, including iPads.

Technology? In the pre-K classroom?

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