Catrena Bowman-Thomas: Senate Bill 60 forces state taxpayers to pay more for early childhood education

Dear Members of the Kentucky State Legislature:

For the past 58 years, Head Start community action agencies in Kentucky have operated Head Start directly and independently. Collectively, we are the Head Start experts in 96 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. To be clear, the state of Kentucky does not have a single Head Start director. Just as every school district has a superintendent, every Head Start program has a Head Start director.

We, Community Action Head Start of Kentucky, ask that you amend Senate Bill 60 and work with us to craft legislation that will strengthen the relationship that exists between local school districts and local Head Start programs.

The issue to be addressed is what is called the “full utilization” of federal Head Start funding, and more broadly, who can make decisions for Head Start enrollment in Kentucky.

Why is this important?

Full use protects every dollar our state has access to for early childhood education – both federal Head Start funding and state taxpayer funding used for public early childhood education. Full utilization ensures that federal resources are used first in all counties while maximizing the number of children enrolled in Head Start and preschool programs, or both.

So what is our request? We believe Head Start and school districts come to the early years table as equals. However, the proposed language in SB 60, related to handling disputes when they arise, will erode our current collaboration and eliminate a fair and equitable process for the Head Start community. Therefore, we ask that the public school official be removed from the language and replaced with an independent third-party arbitrator who will have no bias when hearing disputes.

We further ask that you amend Senate Bill 60 and include new language in subsection (8) to read as follows: “Any person aggrieved by a certificate issued under this section is entitled to appeal by filing a request with the Bureau. of the Attorney General for a hearing pursuant to Chapter 13B of the KRS. »

By adding this language to the bill, we can agree with Senator Wise when he said that Senate Bill 60 “…will improve working relationships and collaborations between local school districts and principals.” Head Start premises…”.

Catrena Bowman-Thomas is the executive director of the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission, which directly operates Head Start in five Kentucky counties.

Norman D. Briggs