Richardson ISD is ahead of other Texas public school districts and the new state law requiring an expanded pre-K program.

The district had decided to convert its existing half-day program to full-day prior to the signing of House Bill 3 in June.

Under the new law, all public school districts in Texas are required to offer free, full-day pre-K to qualifying 3- and 4-year-olds. The new bill provided $780 million for the expanded pre-K program.

“This is something that has been on RISD’s legislative agenda for several sessions now,” Deputy Superintendent Tabitha Branum told Community Impact. “The fact that [the state has]provided this full-day funding will allow us to do great things for kids.”

Currently, a child qualifies for RISD’s program only if he or she meets certain language and income requirements. District leaders say their goal is to make the program universal by 2025.

The beginning of RISD’s full-day program started in August. The district initially budgeted five years to fully convert all half-day pre-K seats to full-day, but HB 3 accelerated that deadline. RISD now plans to apply for a waiver to delay full implementation until school year 2021-22.

RISD is not the only school district asking for a waiver.