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Fiscal Cliff Could Cause School Cuts

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MEDFORD, Ore. – Local Head Start teachers fear for young children as we move closer to the edge of the fiscal cliff.

If the federal government can’t prevent those automatic cuts, twenty one Southern Oregon Head Start facilities would have funding reduced, reducing capacity by 50 kids. More than 300 kids in Jackson and Josephine Counties are on a waiting list for head start services and right now, head start schools cannot serve them.

Once we reach the edge of the fiscal cliff at the end of the month, if the automatic cuts or sequestration takes place, they’ll be forced to serve even fewer kids from low-income families. On top of that, they’ll be forced to employ fewer people.

“We have cooks we have teaching assistants we have center assistants and we have people who work with families so there are a lot of positions that would be eliminated,” said Nancy Nordyke, with Southern Oregon Head Start.

Head Start facilities operate on a per child basis, so the children in Head Start would still receive the same quality service. There would just be fewer kids and fewer teachers. If we do fall off that fiscal cliff and funding is fewer and further between at head start facilities in Southern Oregon, the changes would be implemented next school year.

NewsWatch12 mentioned Thursday that Governor Kitzhaber announced a $20 million federal grant for Oregon’s early childhood education system. That money will not go toward increasing services to more kids, it will be strictly for training and the redesign process of early childhood services in the state.