After more than two years, Toledo Public Schools finally will run Head Start, though it will share the grant with another agency.
The Toledo Board of Education accepted Thursday an $8.1 million grant to serve 1,126 children. The district will work with delegate agencies WSOS Community Action Agency and the Lucas County Family Council, as well as a group of partner agencies. Meanwhile, Brightside Academy will receive nearly $5 million to serve 455 children. The grants are for five years.
Management of the local Head Start program was put up for competition in 2011 for the first time by the Department of Health and Human Services, pitting previous provider Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo against TPS. Neither was selected, so HHS bid the job out again late last year.
Community Development Institute of Denver ran Head Start during the bidding process. It’s unclear how many of that agency’s 280 employees will keep their jobs. Romules Durant, TPS superintendent, said the district, WSOS, and Family Council plan to hire about 110 people.
But some institute employees won’t be qualified to work for the collaborative. TPS will require teachers to have four-year degrees in early childhood education or child development and assistant teachers to have two-year degrees in early childhood education.
“[Head Start children] need and deserve the best we have to offer,” said Amy Allen, a University of Toledo professor who was named Thursday to run early childhood education for TPS.
The grant is part of a HHS pilot initiative, expanding Head Start to serve children from birth through age 5. Children are served longer, but fewer are accepted into the program. TPS board members expressed concern about the thousands of children left out. Mr. Durant has long said the goal is to expand the program to more children. Collaboration members are already searching for more funds.
“We should be working toward universal pre-K in Toledo,” said TPS board member Polly Taylor-Gerken.
WSOS will provide Head Start services in the Washington Local, Maumee, and Springfield Local districts, while Family Council will work with infants, toddlers, and pregnant mothers. TPS will have Head Start centers in each of its six learning communities, including at the Summit Street YMCA, TPS preschool sites, and several elementary schools, such as McTigue, Mr. Durant said.
About 200 students will be served by private child-care providers that score highly on state rankings.
Mr. Durant said it’s still not clear how Lucas County will be split between TPS and Brightside. The agencies are to meet next week with HHS to discuss the grant’s division. While Brightside had opted out of the community partnership, TPS leaders said they had no problem developing a collaboration with them.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.