Mt. Vernon Register-News

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June 13, 2013

Federal cuts hurt District 80's Head Start Program

MT. VERNON – District 80’s Head Start Program is being reduced by 32 slots due to federal sequestration cuts.

This means next school year 32 students will be put on a waiting list instead of taking part in the program. Also, the district will be unable to hire a replacement for retiring Head Start teacher Ruthie Hudson because of the lack of funding.

“We anticipate losing 32 student slots,” said District 80 Superintendent Mike Green. “Because of the less money we’ll have with the grant, we’ll be able to educate less students and those students will now go on a waiting list.”

The District 80 Board of Education discussed the sequestration issue at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Lori Given, principal of the Dr. Andy Hall Early Childhood Center, gave a detailed presentation on the state of the Head Start Program, which provides educational services to low-income children and their families.

“There just have been a lot of changes over the past year,” Given said.

Given said the 32-slot reduction is “regrettable” but that the decrease in funding makes it necessary.

Also on Wednesday, the board approved the 2013-2014 school calendar. The most notable change for next school year is that District 80 will be starting the year two weeks later than usual because of the Casey Middle School expansion.

Teachers and aides will come back on Aug. 29 and the students will begin after Labor Day on Tuesday, Sept. 3, Green said.

“Because of the Casey expansion, we’re going to need pretty well the month of August to get ready for the students,” Green said.

In addition Wednesday, the board formally approved its amended $20 million budget, which came within 1 percent of the original projections, Green said.

“It’s been a very good year on the budget,” Green said.

Other board actions Wednesday included:

n Approval of a three-year agreement with Bushue Human Resources, Inc., which provides legal advice to the district.

n Approval of a measure to install security cameras at the Primary Center.

n Hearing of a report on the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program.

n Discussion of a new hands-on science program for second and third graders to be implemented next school year.

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