Picayune School Board approves slot reduction

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 31, 2017

During a special called meeting held by the Picayune School District Board of Trustees Tuesday, the proposal to cut 20 slots at Early Head Start given by the director during the May 23 meeting was approved.
Last week, Dr. Pamela Thomas, director of Picayune’s Early Head Start program, presented a plan to help get the program’s budget in line. It entailed cutting 20 slots in the program, 10 for children receiving services at home and 10 slots for pregnant women, while reinstating a previously cut family advocate position. That proposal was not approved by the Board. After it was rejected, a motion was approved to hold a special called meeting after some of the Board members who denied the proposal could meet with Thomas at Early Head Start and get a better idea of what she proposed.
Board members Frank Ford and Dr. Lori Blackmer said after that meeting, they understood what Thomas was trying to do.
Thomas said during last week’s meeting that children currently enrolled in the program would not be cut, instead the program will reduce the number of available slots as the older children transition out of the program.
Slots will still be available for pregnant women. Thomas said the slots are categorized for infants, toddlers and pregnant women, and will be filled based on eligibility.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the Board unanimously approved a motion to approve Thomas’ proposal from last week. Board member Frank Feeley, who opposed the cuts last week, was not present for Tuesday’s meeting.
According to documentation available at the meeting, had the Board opted for cutting staff instead of slots, nine of the newest teachers on staff would have been cut, which would have resulted in the reduction of 36 infants and toddler slots, instead of 20 due to regulations set forth by the Head Start program.
The Board meets again June 13 at 5:30 p.m.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox