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Head Start building begins taking shape

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Work is under way on the new Carroll County Head Start facility behind Kathryn Winn Primary School.

Head Start Director Pam McNeal said Monday that the building will house four Early Head Start classrooms for the birth-to 3-year-old program and four Head Start classrooms for the 3- to 4-year-old program.

Total cost of the 10,500-square-foot addition, which includes a corridor connecting the facility to Winn, is estimated at $1.8 million, said Larry Curell, the district’s chief operations officer and director of pupil personnel. He said $500,000 of the cost is coming from a federal Early Head Start grant; the remaining $1.3 million is coming from the district’s General Fund.

Currently, the 105 Head Start children attend classes in the former third-grade classrooms at Winn Primary School. This year, third-graders joined fourth- and fifth-graders at Cartmell Elementary, which is being expanded and updated in the district’s other major construction project.

Forty of the 80 children enrolled in the Early Head Start program, which celebrates its first anniversary Friday, are attending classes at the rear of the building that houses offices for CBS Personnel at 1302 Highland Ave. The remaining 40 students are part of the EHS home-based program.

McNeal said the new facility is on schedule to be completed by the start of the 2011-12 school year in August. “It’s going to be great to have both programs under the same roof.”

When the program was at Cartmell, Head Start children had to leave that school to attend kindergarten at Winn. Then, they would return to Cartmell when they entered fourth grade, she said.

Moving to Winn eliminates those two big changes in young students’ lives. “It will be a wonderful transition for those children,” McNeal said.

In addition to dedicated space for the two program, another highlight of the new facility will be a parents’ lounge, where parents of Head Start children can use computers and other resources to obtain their GEDs or complete other adult-education programs.

The goal of Head Start, McNeal said, is to empower the entire family by helping parents set their own educational and employment goals. “We connect parents to whatever resources they need to make that goal become a reality for them.”