CLOVER -- A learning program for low-income students ages 3 to 5 has been benched from its classroom at Clover's Kinard Elementary School to make space for the arts, but a federal grant could allow the classes to continue at the school in the fall.
Head Start has been offered for seven years at Kinard, the school closest to many of Clover's low-income families. The program serves a four-county area and is free to children who need a boost before entering the school system, based on income and other special needs.
The problem, says executive director Walter Kellogg, is finding classrooms in schools that are constantly growing.
Kellogg was recently notified that he'd need to make other arrangements for Clover Head Start. He said losing a classroom isn't uncommon for Head Start, which operates independently of the schools and cannot afford to rent or lease rooms every school year.
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Space at Kinard became tight when the school sought room for a new integrated arts and education program, with a full-time art coordinator and activities for second-, third- and fourth-graders, offered separately from regular art classes, said Clover schools Superintendent Marc Sosne.
Kellogg and his community action group need $12,000 to lease a mobile unit. They have applied for a federal grant to cover the costs.
The federally funded program includes licensed teachers and teacher assistants, doctors, dentists and nutritional meals, Kellogg said. Parents are required to volunteer, either by chaperoning a field trip, participating in the classroom or serving on a panel.
Sosne wrote a letter of support for the grant.
But Clover parent Katrina Dover said she isn't taking any chances.
When she heard the school district might be running out of options for Head Start, Dover registered her 3-year-old son Steven for the same program in York. It means an extra half-hour drive because Dover won't be able to use the Head Start bus.
But it's worth it, she said. She wants her son to learn early.
"I teach him stuff already, but people are just so busy nowadays," Dover said. "I have to work, and I want my son to be in something educational -- not just a day care."
Sosne's letter of support for leasing the new mobile unit was for one year only. Once construction on a new elementary school on U.S. 321 is complete, space for the program will no longer be an issue, Sosne said.