Head Start programs facing immediate cuts after sequestration

Head Start programs facing immediate cuts after sequestration

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The change will affect about 400 of the 500 Clinch-Powell Head Start students. The change will affect about 400 of the 500 Clinch-Powell Head Start students.
"We cut transportation so we wouldn't have to reduce our service day," said Clinch-Powell Head Start Director Debbie Thomas. "We cut transportation so we wouldn't have to reduce our service day," said Clinch-Powell Head Start Director Debbie Thomas.
"I thought their education went more than this. And it makes me so fighting mad," Kara Inman fumed. "I thought their education went more than this. And it makes me so fighting mad," Kara Inman fumed.

By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

TAZEWELL (WATE) - Parents across East Tennessee are learning about cutbacks at their child's preschool.

Head Start programs in Claiborne, Campbell, and Scott counties and a portion of Hancock County are eliminating bus service and some programs.

The cutbacks are the result of cuts in government spending because of sequestration.

Kara Inman has one grandchild in Head Start and another to start next year.

Instead of taking the bus, though the kids will now ride with their grandmother to school.

"We've got the gas guzzler. Gas is $4 a gallon, but somehow -- we don't live that far away thank God -- she'll get down there and get back. It's that important," Inman said.

Inman's grandkids aren't the only ones who depend on the bus.

The change will affect about 400 of the 500 Clinch-Powell Head Start students.

Clinch-Powell Head Start Director Debbie Thomas knows that might mean a drop in students.

"We cut transportation so we wouldn't have to reduce our service day. We're just really having to make tough decisions and prioritize, and all our bus drivers and bus monitors are going to be laid off," Thomas said.

Eliminating bus service for the next two-and-a-half months will save the program more than $20,000 in fuel costs alone.

Programs like the father's initiative and field trips will be cut as well.

If the cuts are at five percent as Head Start expects, that means about $220,000 will be cut.

"Our classrooms are filled with supplies and that's a main focus, to fill our classrooms with supplies. There is a small cutback there as far as that goes, but we have that under control and things will get better as the year goes on," said Head Start head teacher Kandra Gray.

Inman wants to see lawmakers fix the problem before further cuts have to be made.

"When does it end? When? You're hurting the kids. I thought their education went more than this. And it makes me so fighting mad," Inman fumed.

Thomas says any further cuts could affect the number of days Head Start can operate in the upcoming school year.

6 News contacted every Head Start agency in East Tennessee to see what services they were trimming to meet the new budget requirements. Many didn't return calls.

Anderson County officials said they will have to eliminate eight children from Early Head Start and about twenty from Head Start. Those cuts won't come until this summer.

In upper East Tennessee, including Greene and Hawkins counties, adjustments are considered for the calendar by ending Head Start early this year and starting later this fall.

Officials say eliminating transportation is not an option.

In Knox County, officials say cuts will have to be made, but they're still evaluating their options.

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