|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
Funding cuts close Groveton Head Start
Trinity Standard -
NACOGDOCHES — Cuts in federal funding due to the 2013 sequestration have prompted the closure of the Groveton Head Start center. According to an announcement from the Greater East Texas Community Action-Head Start, a total of 80 head start staff members across the area will be laid off for 10 weeks this summer and 12 staff members will lose their positions as part of a streamlining effort. According to Karen Swenson, executive director for the agency, the Head Start year begin on Dec. 1 so the program has been utilizing 2013 funding for several months. "Therefore when we were instructed to make this cut immediately we had to take quick action. We were also instructed to plan for the same reduction in 2014 as we prepare for the new school year," she said. "This has indeed been challenging," she added. "We did not want to interrupt the services of our current children in this school year, so taking action in the summer was the first option," said Head Start Director Weldon Beard. He added the program has been making efforts for several years to streamline and make cuts as funding continued to dwindle. He stressed the quality of services to the children could not be compromised as well as compliance with numerous program standards, both federal and state. In addition to closing the Groveton Head Start center, the agency will shut down two classrooms in the Nacogdoches ISD. Education Specialist Judy Hamilton said funding for the program has "basically been flat" for several years despite rising costs. "The additional reduction meant we had to look hard at reducing enrollment. We plan to serve the children for 2013-14 in Trinity County through the Head Start center in Trinity as well as the Groveton ISD. "In Nacogdoches some children will be referred to the school district. 57 children will be impacted in these closures. We are fortunate to have good local partnerships so that children still receive services." Children in the current school year will attend as planned through May. GETCAP Head Start serves children and families in five counties including San Jacinto, Trinity, Houston, Walker and Nacogdoches counties. The Early Head Start year-round program will continue with some streamlining.