Fort Worth

Why are Fort Worth school employees knocking on doors near these 11 schools?

Families living near 11 Fort Worth elementary schools received a knock on their doors Monday from district officials and volunteers working to educate them about pre-kindergarten.

The door-to-door informational campaign focused on helping more families access the free program. It targeted elementary schools that have been slower to fill pre-kindergarten slots, said Jennifer Perez, the Fort Worth school district’s director of family communications.

“We know not all kids start at the same starting line,” Perez said. “We want to get them in the door early so they are kindergarten ready.”

Registration for the program is underway. The district has been informing families about signing up on different platforms, including social media and billboards.

The door-to-door campaign focused on 11 elementary schools, including five that are in the 76119 ZIP code: A.M. Pate, Christene Moss, Clifford Davis, Harlean Beal and Sunrise-McMillan. The five schools in the 76119 will get a boost in early learning efforts as part of a $750,000 state grant, Perez said.

Those pre-kindergarten programs will start having longer school days next year. Pre-kindergarten classes at those schools will end at 3 p.m. instead of 2:15 p.m.

Perez said the district wants to reach more families and is trying to figure out what obstacles get in the way of accessing early schooling.

“What is it that keep families from being able to send their kids to pre-k?” Perez said, explaining that they are working with providers to offer more after-school care for working families.

Volunteers, school officials and district administrators walked many blocks for the door-to-door effort.

Rebecca Norris, a volunteer and mother, said she became involved because she wanted to give back to the district that educated her three sons. She also wants families to understand the importance of early learning.

“I’m really big on pre-k,” Norris said. “Now, that anyone can be in pre-k, I’m stressing to everyone: Get your kids in school.”

The Fort Worth school district began offering universal pre-kindergarten during the 2014-15 school year as part of the district’s efforts to add more classrooms under a 2013 bond program.

For more information

The district is hosting a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten registration event from noon to 7 p.m. Thursday at the MLK Community Center, 5565 Truman Dr. Enrollment in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten for the 2019-2020 year continues at fwisd.org/prek.

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Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.
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