Mayor rallies support at early childhood center for Pre-K 4 SA

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Mayor Julian Castro shakes hands with Ethan Gutierrez Sept. 21 at the early childhood center. Castro visited the center to promote Pre-K 4 SA, an initiative to increase pre-kindergarten locally. If voters approve the 1/8th of a cent tax increase Nov. 6, it would bring in $30 million for the program. It would cost $7.81 annually per median household.  Photo by Vincent Reyna

Mayor Julian Castro shakes hands with Ethan Gutierrez Sept. 21 at the early childhood center. Castro visited the center to promote Pre-K 4 SA, an initiative to increase pre-kindergarten locally. If voters approve the 1/8th of a cent tax increase Nov. 6, it would bring in $30 million for the program. It would cost $7.81 annually per median household. Photo by Vincent Reyna

The initiative would require annual tax of $7.81 per median household.

By FAITH DUARTE

fduarte3@student.alamo.edu 

Mayor Julián Castro held a press conference to launch the campaign for education initiative Pre-K 4 SA Sept. 21 at the early childhood center. The initiative would improve preschool education for local 4-year-olds by serving 22,400 children over eight years.

“The voters of San Antonio have a spectacular opportunity to make a great investment in the children of our city,” Castro said.

David Mrizek, vice president of college services; Vanessa Torres, public relations director; and Claudia Gonzales, early childhood center director, held a check for $7.81, representing the annual cost of the program per median household.

Pending voter approval Nov. 6, the initiative would require a one-eighth of one cent sales tax increase.

Castro said the city’s most important need is ensuring a well-educated workforce to compete in the 21st century global economy.

“For $7.81, we can make a profound difference in the educational achievement of 4-year-olds in our city and ensure that San Antonio has greater economic prosperity in the future,” he said.

According to the city of San Antonio’s website, two Education Excellence centers would open in August, serving 700 4-year-olds the first year.

“What this is going to do is fill in gaps that exist now and ensure that 4-year-olds get high-quality, whole-day Pre-K in our city, and also make sure that more middle-class families are able to access quality Pre-K,” Castro said.

“From great early education to great higher education, what we want is for voters of San Antonio to say yes to Pre-K 4 for SA. It just makes sense,” he said.

Early childhood studies Chair Ellen Marshall said not everyone is able to take advantage of early childhood education.

“In order to come to a center like ours, which is nationally accredited, it costs anywhere from $165 to $200 a week. And low-income families cannot afford this kind of quality for an early childhood center that is not a Head Start center or not a public school program,” she said.

Marshall said the center does serve low-income parents who are students at this college.

“Those parents would not be able to be educated if they did not have a place for their child to be while they’re going to college classes,” she said.

Marshall said faculty from the department travel to local early childhood program centers because teachers need help to raise the quality of their curriculum and their interactions to impact children.

“We support Pre-K 4 SA because it will increase access, improve quality and require accountability,” she said.

A YouTube video featuring children from the center was screened during the event to promote the initiative.

Marshall said Tuesday the video was shot over the duration of two weeks before the event. The video is available on the initiative’s website, www.prek4sa.com.

Dr. Adena Loston, president of St. Philip’s College, and former Palo Alto College President Ana “Cha” Guzman were part of a task force to develop the initiative.

The Academic Accountability and Student Success Committee of the Alamo Colleges board of trustees recommended moving a resolution in support of the initiative to the Alamo Colleges board of trustees for approval Sept. 11.

The resolution was then moved back to the committee at the Sept. 18 regular board meeting. District 9 trustee James Rindfuss said Sept. 18 that outside legal counsel William Armstrong needed to revise the resolution.

For more information, call Marshall at 210-486-0516 or visit www.prek4sa.com.

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