The Sherman Independent School District may soon have two campuses for its pre-kindergarten courses for district students following recent state legislation. Among the proposals, the district is considering transitioning the Perrin Learning Center to serve as the district’s second pre-K facility.
District officials discussed the possible changes this month during a Transition 2020 workshop with the school board of trustees. The 2020 school year will make a major transition for the district as it opens its new high school and re-purposes the existing high school as the district’s second middle school.
The year will also make a fundamental shift for the district as it steps away from the intermediate-school model in exchange for a three-tier system.
“In the last legislative session, the legislature requested that all districts offer full-day pre-K to all eligible four-year-old students,” said Tyson Bennett, Sherman ISD assistant superintendent for finance and operations.
In June, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3 into law. In addition to bringing property tax reforms to districts and municipalities, the law also brought changes to pre-K programs across the state. Among these changes, districts that offer pre-K programs must offer them for the full day.
This would prove difficult for the district, due to space and capacity issues not only at Fred Douglass Early Childhood Center, but throughout the district, Bennett said.
“If we went to full-day pre-K then you would pretty much have to cut your pre-K enrollment in half,” he said. “We have limited space throughout the district, we have limited space on the elementary level and need the seat space we have.”
The solution to the capacity problem may come from other changes taking place in the district. As a part of the 2020 transition, the current Sherman High School will be converted to serve as a currently-unnamed middle school. With this transition, district officials expect there will be more space than the middle school will need.
Officials have proposed that the district’s alternative school be moved from the Perrin Learning Center to the H-hall at the current high school. The location would be renovated to meet the needs of the alternative campus and would provide more than enough space.
The H-hall could be isolated from the rest of the middle school campus so that there is little interaction between the two sites due to the H-halls relatively remote location, Bennett said.
“The way it is situated is you can isolated the H-hall from the rest of the middle school campus so you wouldn’t have Perrin Learning Center mixed with Sherman Middle School,” he said.
During the interim, Bennett said the district plans to submit waivers for the program for the current year and the 2020-2021 school year. The state is allowing exemptions to the requirement for up to three years for districts with space issues, among other reasons.