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“The issue has always been making numbers,” Head Start Director Judie Forté-Huff told the Paris Independent School District trustees Monday. “It’s always been 14, 15, 16 children, and it’s been a struggle out there.”
The conversation came as part of a request to change the registration flyer Head Start has been using for the 2014-2015 school year.
Aaron Parker Elementary School has housed a Head Start class since 1994, but the program has historically had low enrollment, Forté-Huff said. It hit its maximum of 18 in 2007, and there are 17 this year, but the enrollment is normally lower.
While there are families with young children in the area who meet the requirements for pre-kindergarten programs, she said, most are outside federal income guidelines. To qualify for Head Start, a family of four can make no more than $23,850. The limit goes up or down by $4,060 per person depending on the size of the family.
Forté-Huff said North Lamar ISD could start an early childhood class. NLISD owns the space, and Head Start would probably leave the classroom intact. She said North Lamar Superintendent James Dawson asked if students could be bused from Paris to Powderly, but she said that would have young children getting up too early.
“They have some plans they’re not quite ready to discuss in regards to early childhood education,” she said said.
The program in Paris has a waiting list, but Aaron Parker does not, Forté-Huff said. This year started with more than 60 and still has more than 30. Some years, it gets as high as 80. If the move is made, Head Start will continue serving children from all five Lamar County districts, including North Lamar, she said.
“We have children here we can’t serve,” Forté-Huff said. “We have the space. The funding would absolutely come with the children, so we could have funding for teachers.”