Head Start schedule reduced for final days of year

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By Kristin Beck

Carroll County Head Start students will be on a limited schedule for the final days of the school year due to bus limitations.

Beginning April 29 and through the last day of school May 16, school days have been cut in half. Rather than all students attending Monday through Thursday from 8-1 p.m., 4-year-olds are coming to school Monday and Wednesday and 3-year-olds are coming Tuesday and Thursday.

Superintendent Lisa James said the Head Start bus fleet has been reduced from four to two because of two accidents.

The program normally operates with three buses, plus a backup. After the incident on Oct. 29, 2012, one bus was taken off the fleet and a new bus was ordered, James said. However, it takes several months for a new bus to arrive. It is due some time in May, she said.

Another Head Start bus was involved in a minor accident at 7:17 a.m. April 25 in Ghent. Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Deputy J.T. Shaw responded to the call.

According to the police report, the driver of the vehicle, Kevin M. Taylor of Sanders, told Shaw that he was driving on Hwy. 47 toward the railroad tracks from the Buck’s Run intersection when he took his attention away from the roadway for a second to adjust the heater. The passenger side tires hit the side of the road, startling him, and he overcorrected into the opposite lane, according to the police report.

The school bus, driven by Kelly Warren, saw the vehicle comingand stopped, Shaw said. The vehicle slid out of control and struck the front of the bus’ driver side and came to a stop in the ditch line across the street.

There were four Head Start children and a bus monitor on board, along with the driver.

Carroll County EMS responded to the scene and checked everyone out. Everyone refused treatment, according to the police report.

James said Childhood Development Center Coordinator Pam McNeal called the parents of the four children at the site. One parent picked up their child; the other three children were taken to school on another Head Start bus.

The bus driver was picked up by school administration for a drug test, due to policy, the police report stated.

“All the district protocols were followed,” James said. “We’re just happy all of the children are safe. Our number one priority is the children.”

Cummings Towing towed the vehicle, and M&M Towing towed the bus.

There were no charges in the accident.

McNeal said there are 121 students enrolled in Head Start that live all across the county. It is not physically possible to pick up and drop off all of those students with just two buses.

There were two options: switch all of the children to home-based learning for the remainder of the school year or change the schedule.

Head Start programs are required to offer a minimum number of days of service. Carroll County’s minimum is 128 days. McNeal said they always offer more than is required because they align their schedule with the rest of the school district.

McNeal said she contacted all of the Head Start parents about the possible schedule changes. James said the decision was made to change the schedule based on feedback from McNeal’s phone calls.

Head Start will be back on schedule beginning in August when the children return from summer break, McNeal said.