Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

May 31, 2013

Sequestration closes CO Head Start

CROSSVILLE — Head Start students are on their summer breaks, but when classes resume in August, the Crab Orchard Head Start facility will not be welcoming back the smiling faces of three- and four-year-old students.

The center, which served 37 students, will remain closed due to federal budget cuts known as sequestration that cut federal programs across the board.

"It's pretty sad times," said Dorothy Pippin, executive director of L.B.J.&C. Head Start. "Crab Orchard was not the only center affected by the cuts."

L.B.J.&C. Head Start serves Head Starts in Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Warren and White counties. Pippin said the Head Start's federal funding was cut by 5.2 percent, or about $466,000 for the local agency.

"That's a pretty hard blow," she said.

In addition to closing the Crab Orchard facility, Pippin said L.B.J.&C. would be closing a facility in Warren County that served 20 children. Also, all four-year-old classrooms will be reduced from 20 to 17 students.

Head Start serves at-risk children, typically those from low-income families in which parents are out of a job or are working, single parents, with early childhood education and intervention services. Nationally, about 1 million children are served by Head Start.

Pippin said those children who had applications for Crab Orchard will be given an opportunity to enroll at one of the other three Head Start centers in Cumberland County — Crossville, Home Away From Home and Pinewood.

"We're going to be working with the parents and give them the opportunity to transfer," Pippin said. "Also, the staff will be given the opportunity to transfer to other positions in the program if they so choose."

The sequester cuts will reduce the number of children served by L.B.J.&C. Head Start from 1,324 students to 1,168.

Sequestration is the process that automatically cuts the federal budget across most departments and agencies. The Budget Control Act of 2011 included sequestration cuts effective Jan. 2, 2013. Congress was unable agree to a budget by the deadline set in the Budget Control Act; however, on Jan. 2, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which pushed the budget cuts back until March 1. Congress was still unable to agree to a budget to reduce the deficit by March 1, and the cuts became effective.

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