College Council supports city’s Pre-K 4 SA initiative

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Dr. Ellen Marshall, chair of early childhood studies, presents Pre-K 4 SA.  Photo by Gloria Fernandez De Clements

Dr. Ellen Marshall, chair of early childhood studies, presents Pre-K 4 SA. Photo by Gloria Fernandez De Clements


College Council voted Tuesday to encourage the Alamo Colleges board of trustees to pass a resolution supporting the education initiative Pre-K 4 SA.

At the Oct. 20 regular board meeting, a resolution in favor for Pre-K 4 SA will go before the board of trustees for approval.

The board tabled the resolution at the Sept. 18 regular board meeting in support of Pre-K 4 SA because outside legal council William Armstrong needed to revise the resolution.

Early childhood studies Chair Ellen Marshall said if the city does not spend money on Pre-K 4 SA, then money will be spent on high school dropouts and juvenile detention.

“The fact that you’re putting the issue of early childhood on the table is something that our community supports,” Marshall said.

Pre-K 4 SA would improve education for local 4-year-olds by serving 22,400 children over eight years.

The initiative would require a one-eighth-of-a-cent sales tax increase and will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Marshall said education is prioritized from universities to community colleges, followed by high schools, middle schools, elementary schools and finally early childhood education.

She said the order should actually be reversed, and the youngest students should have top priority.

“Really, that should be reversed because of the amount of brain development that goes on during the first five years of life,” she said.

People who disapprove of the initiative want to fix the education system as it is, but it is hard to be on the same page with 17 school districts in Bexar County, she said.

President Robert Zeigler said a household with a medium income would pay about $8 a year in additional sale taxes.

“That’s not much,” Zeigler said. “That to me, is a very low cost for what the potential need is for this.”

He said although Pre-K 4 SA is a big step, it is important to invest in students.

He said the number of student dropouts will increase if the city does not invest in the initiative, and taxpayers will have to spend even more money on social services, health care or prisons.

“You either invest some dollars now or a whole lot more later,” Zeigler said.

He said this initiative is important because a former Harlandale Independent School District superintendent once told him that forecasters look at third grade reading levels for benchmarks to predict the number of prison beds needed in the future.

Marshall said 80 percent of third graders behind in third grade reading will never catch up.

In other news, Dr. David Wood, director of institutional research, planning and effectiveness, said last year’s college plan has been reviewed for the past month to release this year’s college plan.

The plan’s overall objective is to improve and increase enrollment and learning as well as graduation and transfer rates at this college.

Wood said the new plan is similar to last year’s, but there is a new objective related to advising.

He said there is no data collected yet for that objective, but it will be done before the beginning of the next academic year.

Susan Espinoza, director of college and grants developments, said the number of graduates in 2011-12 surpassed the goal of 2,200 graduates for fiscal year 2013.

Wood said the numbers came from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and data used to project graduates for 2013 was from 2011 data.

He said with new data, the graduation projection can jump above 2,200, although that number has not yet been reported.

Psychology Chair Thomas Billimek said data should reflect the amount of time faculty spend advising students who do not graduate from this college.

Billimek said if students transfer and graduate from a university, this college does not receive credit.

College Council will meet again at 2 p.m. Nov. 13 in Room 120 of the visual arts center.


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