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Several advocates had a news conference Monday on behalf of the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo, in support of its bid to continue running Head Start in Toledo.
Those holding the conference were former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, Sylvester Gould, first vice chairman of the EOPA board, and former EOPA board leaders Earl Murry and Theresa M. Gabriel.
While the news conference was outside Mount Nebo Baptist Church on North Detroit Avenue, a group of ministers meeting inside did not come out to speak to reporters in support of EOPA.
Reporters inside the church were told to leave because the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Toledo and Vicinity had not endorsed the news conference.
EOPA was recently notified by the federal government it will have to compete for funding if it wants to continue to administer Head Start locally.
Mr. Finkbeiner said EOPA, one of many community action agencies founded in the 1960s as one of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty programs, is one of the few groups providing services to those in the central city.
“I want to see it remain in place,” Mr. Finkbeiner said. Without Head Start’s $13 million in federal funding, the agency “will crumble and fall,” he said.
Ms. Gabriel said she was there to show there was no animosity from previous EOPA boards.
She was one of a number of board members who left the agency in 2008 in a dispute over who should become the new executive director. When asked if EOPA has dealt with the issues she raised at the time she left the board, she said, “Some of them have been addressed. Some of them have not. That’s up to the current board.”
Mr. Murry said EOPA “is a viable agency and it’s a good agency.”
Last week, Toledo Public School board members voted to authorize Superintendent Jerome Pecko to apply for the grant to run Head Start; EOPA supporters have threatened to campaign against the district’s levy if the grant goes forward.
The Rev. Cedric Brock, pastor of Mount Nebo Baptist Church and president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Toledo and Vicinity, said the group has not taken a position either for or against EOPA’s efforts.
“We just don’t know enough about it,” he said. The IMA was having its regular monthly meeting Monday afternoon; Mr. Brock said the group will study the issue further.
Mr. Brock is a former ombudsman for TPS; he no longer is employed by the district, but TPS is in negotiations to bring him back, spokesman Patty Mazur said.
“Regardless of where I stand with TPS, you’ve got to hear both sides [of the Head Start issue],” Mr. Brock said.
Contact Kate Giammarise at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.