The Athens Independent School District is eliminating its Head Start program and will replace it with pre-kindergarten classes beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, Superinte-ndent Blake Stiles said Wednesday.
Head Start is a federal program aimed at preparing children up to age five and from low-income families for school. Athens ISD has five Head Start classes spread out between the Bel Air and South Athens elementary campuses. Stiles said the program in Athens consists of 100 children and 10 AISD staff members — five teachers and five aides.
While automatic federal spending cuts left Athens’ Head Start program with a significant gap in funding, Stiles said the decision was based as much on the ability to have local control over the pre-school program.
Strict federal guidelines dictate how local Head Start operations are run — controlling factors from teacher-to-student ratio and curriculum to when and how long a naptime can be held, Stiles said. By transitioning to a state-based pre-K program, Athens ISD officials will have more control to make decisions they think are best for their students.
“Head Start offered some great things,” Stiles said, “but we just felt like pre-K was a better fit for us. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing for the rest of this school year, and then over the summer we’ll begin to make the transition.”
Stiles said the transition plan includes absorbing current Head Start staffers into other positions in the district as they come available. “We may have fewer total staff positions in the end,” Stiles said, “but we don’t want anybody to have to lose a job.”
Among the biggest differences between Head Start and pre-K is how a student qualifies. Head Start admits children who meet the guidelines for free lunch under National School Lunch Program guidelines. Pre-K programs, however, require a child to meet only the reduced-cost lunch standards to qualify. That, Stiles said, could mean possibly more children accepted into the program.
Class sizes are also different between the programs, with Head Start mandating a 20-to-1 teacher-to-student ratio and pre-kindergarten allowing as much as a 22-to-1 ratio — the latter of which matches state requirements for kindergarten through third-grade classes.
Head Start program will continue through end of this school year
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Too close to home
It was the kind of moment any parent would dread.
Give it to Jody!
The 50th annual Henderson County Farm and Ranch Tour concluded Tuesday with a luncheon on the floor of the Henderson County Fair Park Complex arena and the naming presentation of the Joe B. Fulgham Agriculturist of the Year.
The 25th recipient of the award was Jody Jackson of Murchison, whose farming and ranching operations started with a few cattle and some chickens then grew to one of the county’s most varied operations.
County votes to sell old annex building
Henderson County officials on Tuesday narrowly approved contracting with an Athens realtor to list the old Courthouse Annex building for sale.
Steve Grant Real Estate was chosen to sell the property by a 3-to-2 vote. Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence and Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin cast the dissenting votes.
Burk to serve as next ACA administrator
Athens Christian Academy (Kindergarten through 6th grade) is pleased to announce Dale Burk as the new administrator beginning July 2013.
Bullying just got tougher
To reduce the prevalence of school age bullying the Athens Independent School District has added a new communications tool called Anonymous Alerts, allowing individuals to quickly, easily and anonymously report urgent information that they may otherwise be uncomfortable revealing.
The Athens Odd Fellow Lodge No. 961 and Athens Rebekah Lodge No. 23 has seven students who are receiving a $500 scholarship to Trinity Valley Community College for this year.
Area woman killed
A 49-year-old Mabank woman died as a result of injuries sustained when she was struck by a vehicle while walking on State Highway 198 in Payne Springs Friday night.
Lusk found guilty
A jury returned a guilty verdict on Tuesday against 36 year-old Danny Ray Lusk for sexual misconduct involving two children.
Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee said the punishment phase of the trial which began May 14 was set to begin Tuesday in Judge Mark Calhoon’s 3rd District Court.
Keep Athens Beautiful celebrates 25 years
Keep Athens Beautiful (KAB) celebrated 25 years with a banquet at Athens Country Club last Friday night. The evening was hosted by Darwin Winfield (not pictured). Peggy Rhodes (left) presented Hugh Armstrong (second from the right) the Margaret Myers Award. Carol Morton (far right) presented two people with the Hall of Fame Award — Jerry Wadell and Victory Roberts (second and third from left). Margaret Myers is also pictured with the award winners, third from right. View additional photos from the event at www.athensreview.com.
Art hits the streets in Mabank
The Mabank Branch of the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the fifth Mabank Festival and Art Show on Market Street in downtown Mabank this past weekend. Hundreds of people and more than 75 vendors attended the event. In addition to the artwork and other items for sale, there were food vendors and entertainment for children. View additional photos at www.athensreview.com.
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