Head Start seeks home

June 20, 2000|By TARA REILLY

Resources for Families and Children asked the Washington County Board of Education at its Tuesday night meeting to consider providing space in at least five elementary schools next year for the Head Start program.

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Paul Pittman, executive director of Resources for Families and Children, said the organization is looking for space for about 153 children.

RFC was awarded a $2.1 million federal grant in early June to fund the Head Start program to serve a maximum of 367 children, fewer than the 418 enrolled last year.

About 216 of the 367 children would attend classes at the Martin Luther King Center, Noland Village Community Center and the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church next year.


Pittman has asked that the remaining children attend the program at Hancock Elementary; Emma K. Doub Elementary or Lincolnshire Elementary; Bester Elementary, Salem Avenue Elementary or Winter Street Elementary; Pangborn Boulevard Elementary or Cascade; or Smithsburg schools.

The School Board would just provide space not instruction. Because the School Board was not listed on the grant and will not receive federal money to provide instruction, about 25 instructional assistants could lose their jobs, Board President Paul Bailey said two weeks ago. The seven full-time Head Start teachers employed by the Board are to be reassigned to other positions as they become available.

Pittman said that while RFC's pay won't be as high, affected Board of Education staff are welcome to apply for Head Start positions with RFC.

"We're asking to sit down and discuss with the staff ways to make the Head Start program in Washington County a win-win situation," Pittman said.

The School Board agreed to negotiate with RFC but also raised concerns about some of the schools requested by Pittman already being at full-capacity, how children would be transported to the schools and who would discipline them if there were any problems.

"It's a big decision for this board," Board Vice President Doris J. Nipps said.

Pittman said some of the transportation would be provided by RFC and parents, but the two sides would need to discuss transportation for the remaining students.

He said he hopes the School Board and RFC can reach an agreement by mid-July. If not, he said he knows of alternative sites, including churches, that would be willing to provide space for Head Start.

"The Board of Education wants to take the high ground and cooperate to see that as many youngsters (as possible) can be served," Board President Paul W. Bailey said.

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