Mt. Vernon Register-News

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March 14, 2013

Head Start to be affected by budget cuts

MT. VERNON — — Federal Sequestration will be affecting the District 80 Head Start program.

"Unless something happens with the Federal government by March 27, we will be hit," said District 80 Assistant Superintendent Aletta Lawrence. "They don't play nice in Washington, D.C."

Sequestration refers to the budget cuts in categories of the Federal budget, which went into effect on March 1. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers the Head Start program, and was ordered to cut funds for all its programs by 5 percent. The program is designed to promote school readiness in children ages birth to five years old. The program includes health, nutrition and social services, providing many low-income families with educational opportunities they may not be able to otherwise afford.

Lawrence reported a 5 percent cut in funding would hit the Head Start program, which amounts to about $72,000 in funding.

"We can't absorb that kind of hit," Lawrence said. "It breaks our hearts. We've taken cuts in the last few years, and not taken away (student) slots and just absorbed the costs, but 5 percent is too big and we can't do that and still cover our costs."

The cut would affect the equivalent of half a class, Lawrence said.

"That's still going to be tight," she said. "It's a lot of personnel, and a lot of our budget is personnel. It's definitely not our choice."

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