The finishing touches are being put on at Arlington Park Early Childhood Center near Dallas' Medical District. The stand alone pre-kindergarten school is a first-of-its-kind for the Dallas Independent School District.
"Let me show you the classrooms," said Principal Enrique Escobedo as he walked into a bright white room where workers were assembling orange tables and chairs built to fit the 3- and 4-year-olds who will attend the school.
"It's a very cheerful place."
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Dallas is a tale of two cities. While the school district says Pre-K enrollment is up 2,500 students over the last three years, overall district enrollment is down about 2,000 students during that same period. As the DISD has had to compete with private and charter schools for students, the district has closesd or repurposed 13 schools over the last six years.
The new Pre-K school is the only one in the district that offers all-day Pre-K for 3-year olds, as well as expanded before- and after-school hours.
"We want Arlington Park to be the beacon on the hill, the shining example of what students can achieve if they have a good Pre-K experience," said DISD Assistant Superintendent of Early Learning Derek Little.
The school district is marketing to parents who live and work in Dallas' Medical District, who might otherwise put their children in private school. Arlington Park is offering tuitoon-based enrollment, allowing more families that don't qualify for free Pre-K to enroll students at less cost than a private school. The goal is to keep those student beyond Pre-K.
"We want families to know that DISD is the right place for them, whether their child is 3 or whether they're a senior in high school."
DISD will host pop-up enrollment sites starting next week. The first day of class is Aug. 20.