By George                                              H.B. No. 605
         77R1584 BDH-D                           
                                A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 1-1                                   AN ACT
 1-2     relating to prekindergarten programs for public school students.
 1-4           SECTION 1. Subchapter E, Chapter 29, Education Code, is
 1-5     amended by amending Section 29.153 and adding Sections 29.1531 and
 1-6     29.1532 to read as follows:
 1-8     A [Any school district may offer prekindergarten classes, but a]
 1-9     district shall offer prekindergarten classes if the district
1-10     identifies 15 or more [eligible] children who are eligible under
1-11     Subsection (b) and are at least four years of age.  A school
1-12     district may offer prekindergarten classes if the district
1-13     identifies 15 or more eligible children who are at least three
1-14     years of age.  A district may not charge tuition for a
1-15     prekindergarten class offered under this section.
1-16           (b)  A child is eligible for enrollment in a prekindergarten
1-17     class under this section if the child is at least three years of
1-18     age and is:
1-19                 (1)  unable to speak and comprehend the English
1-20     language;
1-21                 (2)  educationally disadvantaged; or
1-22                 (3)  homeless, as defined by 42 U.S.C. Section 11302,
1-23     regardless of the residence of the child, of either parent of the
1-24     child, or of the child's guardian or other person having lawful
 2-1     control of the child.
 2-2           (c)  A prekindergarten class under this section shall be
 2-3     operated on a half-day basis.  A district is not required to
 2-4     provide transportation for a prekindergarten class, but
 2-5     transportation, if provided, is included for funding purposes as
 2-6     part of the regular transportation system.
 2-7           (d)  On application of a district, the commissioner may
 2-8     exempt a district from the application of this section if the
 2-9     district would be required to construct classroom facilities in
2-10     order to provide prekindergarten classes.
2-11           (e)  Each school district shall develop a system to notify
2-12     the population in the district with children who are eligible for
2-13     enrollment in a prekindergarten class under this section of the
2-14     availability of the class. The system must include public notices
2-15     issued in English and Spanish.
2-16           Sec. 29.1531.  TUITION-SUPPORTED PREKINDERGARTEN.  (a)  A
2-17     school district may offer on a tuition basis prekindergarten
2-18     classes to children who:
2-19                 (1)  are at least three years of age on September 1;
2-20     and
2-21                 (2)  are not eligible for classes under Section 29.153.
2-22           (b)  A district that offers a prekindergarten program on a
2-23     tuition basis may not adopt a tuition rate for the program that is
2-24     higher than necessary to cover the costs of providing the program.
2-26     (a) [(f)]  A school district's prekindergarten program shall be
2-27     designed to develop skills necessary for success in the regular
 3-1     public school curriculum, including language, mathematics, and
 3-2     social skills.
 3-3           (b) [(g)]  If a school district contracts with a private
 3-4     entity for the operation of the district's prekindergarten program,
 3-5     the program must at a minimum comply with the applicable child-care
 3-6     licensing standards adopted by the Department of Protective and
 3-7     Regulatory Services under Section 42.042, Human Resources Code.
 3-8           SECTION 2. This Act applies beginning with the 2001-2002
 3-9     school year.
3-10           SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
3-11     a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
3-12     provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  If this
3-13     Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
3-14     Act takes effect September 1, 2001.