A board meeting turned contentious Monday night at the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo when several EOPA supporters and board members questioned the role of a task force assembled by the Toledo Community Foundation to examine Head Start best practices.
EOPA was recently notified it must compete to continue receiving nearly $13 million in federal funds to run Head Start locally. Other groups that could apply to run the program include Toledo Public Schools and other nonprofit or for-profit agencies.
The Community Foundation assembled a 13-person task force that included two EOPA board members, as well as representatives from TPS, the University of Toledo, Springfield and Washington local schools and other agencies. It met for the first time in February and is scheduled to release its recommendations Friday.
EOPA board member Sylvester Gould said the idea that EOPA was represented on the task force was “a bunch of malarkey,” referring to Aaron Baker and the Rev. Donald Perryman, the two EOPA members chosen by the foundation for the committee.
Former board member Earl Murry who spoke at the meeting, said he was concerned about how the task force was put together, since EOPA did not choose its own task force members.
Mr. Baker said he made sure to report on the group’s activities to EOPA.
EOPA board president Richard Jackson said he would have liked to participate in the task force, but was comfortable with EOPA’s representatives to the group.
Along with Mr. Murry, former mayors Carty Finkbeiner and Jack Ford, and president of Toledo’s NAACP chapter the Rev. Kevin Bedford came to state their support for EOPA. Rev. Bedford said he looked forward to the task force’s recommendations but was unhappy that the group had received private funding from undisclosed donors.
“How that pie was baked, I don’t like,” he said after the meeting.
Community Foundation President Keith Burwell, who was not in attendance, said, “There is no such thing as a perfect committee. We made sure it was independent.”
Before the meeting, about 10 EOPA staff members were demonstrating outside the agency’s Hamilton Street headquarters in support of it continuing to run Head Start.
“They don’t just get people off the street and throw them on the buses. We are highly trained,” said Pat Lightner, a bus facilitator for Head Start.