The lesser of the negative moves

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 31, 2017

week ago the Item reported on the possibility of 20 slots being cut from the Early Head Start program while reinstating a staff position in order to get the budget in line.

During that meeting, the Board of Trustees elected to decline the suggestion until more information could be gathered and then set a special call meeting to make an informed decision.

That special call meeting was held Tuesday.

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Friday, members of the Board made a trip to the Early Head Start to meet with the program’s director and find out exactly what she proposed.

It basically entailed reinstating a previously cut family advocate position and reduce the number of slots for children and pregnant women receiving the services at home through attrition.

When it was presented, the Board understood the cut to mean 20 less children would receive the care Early Head Start provides. That perception gave the Board cause for concern.  To them, cutting slots instead of staff was not the best way to get the budget in line.

But according to information presented by representatives of the program, if the cuts were made to the staff instead of children, the reduction in services would have been more extensive. That was the message the program’s director was trying to convey.

That information states in order to cut the budget by the required $224,000, Early Head Start would have had to cut nine teacher positions. Since there are two teachers to a classroom of eight toddlers or infants, that would have resulted in a reduction of 36 slots, instead of 20.

And those 36 slots would have been cut from the two facilities of Early Head Start, not the home care services as the director first proposed.

While it’s still a shame 20 less children will receive the vital early assistance provided by the program, that’s still better than sending 9 adults to the unemployment office, and 36 children home.

It’s commendable that the Board took the time to gather more information before making a decision on this matter.