The Newton Head Start program shut down Thursday, though it should reopen next week.
The Federal Region VII Head Start office officials have chosen to change the provider of Head Start services, leading to the program closing to reorganize with a new provider.
“The good news of today is the program will still be here,” said Joyce Stockham of Mid-Kansas Community Action Program, the former provider of Head Start services. “We wish we could have worked with the regional office for a better transition.”
Notification of the transition and closure came Thursday.
“This really came out of the blue,” said John Morton, superintendent of Newton Schools. “Our people really bore the brunt of this, it was an emotional time as you could imagine.”
A new grantee, or service provider, will take over Head Start for several counties, including Harvey County. Also
included in the transition are Barton, Butler, Greenwood, Pawnee and Rice counties.
While the Newton program will be closed, Halstead’s Head Start will remain open. The school district will operate the program temporarily, namely because of a unique situation in Halstead.
According to Cory Gibson, superintendent of Halstead Schools, Head Start works under the same umbrella as the school’s at-risk program.
“We have a unique partnership in that it is part of our at-risk program, there are students in the class as Head Start and students in the class as at-risk and they under the same umbrella,” Gibson said. “Temporarily we are going to keep the organization afloat as is. We are doing the best job we can.”
The new provider will be responsible for the hiring of staff and all program administration.
The program could grow, as there are more children in need of the service than spaces available. According to statistics from the KIDS COUNT report, compiled by Kansas Action for Children, Harvey County had 87.74 Head Start spots for every 100 children ages 3 or 4 who were below 100 percent of the poverty level.
Head Start in Newton added 12 slots in 2009 and expanded into a new classroom this school year as a result of the Cooper Early Childhood Education Center expansion that was completed in fall.