District adding preschool next fall
Local federal Head Start program cut by squester
Center School could get a little crowded next fall.
The district will have three first grades and three kindergarten classes as well as providing preschool for 3- to 5-year-olds, according to Superintendent Dennis Carlson.
The district received word that Grant County Head Start ceased operating here as of April 26, more than three weeks earlier than planned, due to a 5.27-percent cut in federal funds due to the sequester.
Sally Gundry, executive director of Grant County Family Services, the agency in charge of the local Head Start, said the cut of 5.27 percent was retroactive to Nov. 1, 2012, when this year’s program started.
“This is a deep cut for our agency,” Gundry stated, “and it forced us to make decisions we didn’t want to make.”
She said Grand Coulee was at the end of the district and more costly to support. The agency is also ending its bussing operation.
The Grand Coulee Head Start had been scheduled to end May 17. Gundry said that four people will lose their jobs because of the cut.
The details of how next fall’s preschool operated by the district will be handled has yet to be worked out, Carlson stated.
“We are required to see that a preschool is available for 3- to 5-year-olds,” he stated. If the state provides funding for all-day kindergarten, then the district could shift funds it spends for the half day not funded to its pre-school program. A system that combines state funding with a pay system could be established, Carlson noted.
Space also could be a problem and it might be that the district would have to take space used for other things to provide a preschool classroom.
The crowding problem is a blessing in disguise and indicates that the number of young families in the area is growing.
Center Principal Lisa Lakin reported to the school board that pre-enrollment for kindergarten is way ahead of what it has been in the past.
A person familiar with the Grand Coulee Co-op Preschool at the Presbyterian Church in Coulee Dam stated that they are planning enrollment of about 20 kids for next school term.