GETTING A ‘HEAD START’: Community meeting held to clear up confusion about the school program

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – School starts soon and enrollment for “Head Start” and Pre-K begins this month. Now, some parents have questions about why Tyler ISD almost killed the program.

KETK’s partners, The Tyler Loop, hosted a community discussion to help parents understand what is going on with school programs.

“Head Start” was the only item on the agenda Thursday night.

“It really helped them, really get ready for kindergarten, so it’s an important issue,” says Joyia Sells, a former Head Start parent.

Joyia and Daniel Sells both have two children who’ve been through the program.

“It definitely worked for us with the programs that were available for us and we don’t want to see any child fall through the cracks,” explains Daniel Sells.

Last month when Tyler ISD announced the district would be replacing the program, and it left parents like the Sells wondering why.

“We got about a month if not less before school starts and to try to be figuring things out right now is not going to be a benefit,” says Mr. Sells.

BUT MANY PARENTS SAY THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS COMMUNICATION.

“We just found out through a news report that head start is gone, and we were like wow, wait, what,” explains Mr. Sells.

“During the meeting, Christina Fulsom, the CEO of the East Texas Human Needs Network, mentioned out of 1700 Head Start programs across the U-S, only one would be closing its door, here in East Texas.

When asked why the Head Start program was cancelled to begin with, Dr. Christy Hanson answered, not on behalf of the district, but to inform the public.

“We wanted to make sure we had consistency across the district, that we were able to ensure that every student in our district was able to participate in all of the high-quality programming that we have,” says Dr. Hanson, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for Tyler ISD.

Dr. Hanson says the biggest misconception is the district’s goal when it comes to education.

“The academic success of the kids is of the utmost importance to us,” says Dr. Hanson.

According to Dr. Hanson Head Start will be offered for the 2019-2020 school year for students who qualify for it.

“The Tyler Loop,” says each Tyler ISD board member, who initially voted to end the program, was invited to the meeting. However, none of them attended.

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