Lowndes BOE seeking to expand Head Start to infants/toddlers
Published 12:45 pm Friday, January 15, 2016
By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
Due to decreasing Head Start enrollment for children ages 3 and up, the Lowndes County Board of Education is seeking to expand the program to serve infants and toddlers.
At its regular second Thursday night meeting, held at Jackson-Steele Elementary, the board voted to approve a request that 51 of 280 slots in the Head Start Program be converted to 24 Early Head Start (infants and toddlers) slots. The request must now be approved by the Region IV Head Start Association Inc. in Atlanta, Ga.
The board also voted to reinstate a student into the school system and received a policy for review and approval next month that changes the term “indefinite suspension” to “expelled.”
The meeting also included a performance by Jackson-Steele students and gifts of appreciation for board members.
According to the office of Lowndes County Superintendent of Education Dr. Daniel Boyd, the school district’s Head Start Program is currently funded to serve 280 children ages 3 and up. However, “Despite an aggressive search, 280 children in this age group have not been found.” Also, “Lowndes County data confirms they are not here. “
Boyd told the board Thursday night that Head Start has served Lowndes County since 1967, “But we are going to do something that is totally new.”
He said, “There are a lot of studies that show that the more exposure a child has when they are at the infant or toddler stage, the better off they are.” He also said the learning they have at an early age makes them a “much better student later on, and a lot of times, it makes them a more productive person when they become an adult.”
He said with the expansion of the Head Start Program, each of three teachers to be hired will work with eight families in three areas of the county, the Jackson-Steele Community (White Hall), the Mosses/Hayneville area and the Fort Deposit area.
Boyd said each teacher will spend one and a half hours per week with each family and will report to an Early Head Start manager. He also the mother and child in each family will be required to come to one of the schools, Jackson-Steele Elementary, Central Elementary or Fort Deposit Elementary one time per month.
He said there would be a rocking chair, a feeding station, age appropriate items for the children to play with and certain types of milk to feed the children “all in an effort to make sure that we stimulate the mind… so that child can start the learning process at an early age.”
Boyd said the program has been submitted and, if approved, Head Start will cover it at no additional expense to the school district.
Following the meeting, Boyd said, “The Early Head Start Program will be a win-win situation for our parents and our students.” He said, “There are a considerable amount of brain-based studies out there that suggests that when a student is exposed to cognitive type things that the synapses of the brain cells connect and enable them to become better students.”
He said, “We have worked real hard to bring the Early Head Start Program and it is actually coming to Lowndes County.”
Boyd said if the request is approved by Region IV Head Start, the expanded program will begin August. And, while it will not cost the school district any additional funding, he said $328,000 will be dedicated to the program.
Boyd said the school district could have done on of two things with Head Start enrollment going down, just let the program go down or expand the program.
He said of the expanded program, “We’re excited about it. It’s truly a win-win situation. We can’t go wrong with it.”
The board also approved the reinstatement of a student retroactive to January 5 who had been expelled from school. Boyd told the board that he made the reinstatement recommendation because, “This student has done everything (requested) so that he could come back to school.”
In other matters, the board approved:
A contract between the board and H Tours (Charter Bus Service) for the Calhoun School Band;
a science textbook committee; the November 2015 financial statement, profit and loss detail Report and check detail report for the Lowndes County Head Start Program; revenues and expenditures report, financial statement and payroll register for November 2015-based on reconciled bank statements; and the Personnel Report.
School Board member Robert Grant was absent from Thursday night’s meeting. The next meeting will be held Feb. 11 at the Central Office in Hayneville.