WCS Will No Longer Operate Preschool Program Independently

Warsaw Community Schools will no longer operate its preschool programs independently at Claypool and Leesburg Elementary Schools.
The program will now be run by Head Start, a federally funded child development program operated locally by Cardinal Services.
Dr. David Hoffert, WCS superintendent, said in an interview this morning a letter communicating the change was sent to parents before spring break. The letter states that the decision “is based on our current financial landscape and the state of Indiana’s decision to not provide funding for (pre-kindergarten) programming.”
Hoffert said today the realization is that the state decided not to fund preschool education, and that in fact Gov. Mike Pence declined to use federal money to go toward preschool education. He said the decision was made in March as the administration looked at programming concerns such as adding classes or staff.
“When we started up the preschools the concept was that the state would come through with state and federal funding to cover preschool education,” Hoffert said. “We would love to have a Head Start preschool program in all of our schools if that eventually works out.”
There are currently fewer than 60 students enrolled in the Claypool and Leesburg Elementary School preschools, Hoffert said.
The money that school systems are given is supposed to be allocated for kindergarten through 12th grade and the schools received no preschool funding.
“We started to figure out a way to transition our preschool programs and leverage some of the needs that were inside of our community,” Hoffert said.
Head Start, run by Cardinal Services, was looking for locations to house its preschool programs and they will now run their preschool program out of Claypool and Leesburg Elementary Schools.
“Their curriculum matches exactly what Warsaw’s curriculum does,” Hoffert said.
He added that the school district doesn’t know how many of the families currently enrolled in preschool will be accepted by Head Start because the federal program has different qualifications.
Parents will need to apply to Head Start for preschool enrollment by calling   574-267-2451.
Head Start is a needs-based program and families who are interested need to visit the Head Start office, 811 S. Buffalo St., Warsaw, to complete the application process. Hours and days are Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To complete the process applicants need to bring the child’s birth certificate, family income documentation and documentation of proof of Kosciusko County residency.
Hoffert said with the transition no teachers lost their jobs.
The Pence administration declined to apply for $80 million in federal funding when Indiana launched a pilot pre-kindergarten program in 2014, instead funding it by state and county money. Pence claimed in an Oct. 20, 2015 editorial published in the Indy Star that it “is important not to allow the lure of federal grant dollars to define our state’s mission and programs” and that Indiana “must develop our own pre-K program without federal intrusion.”
Glenda Ritz, state superintendent of Public Instruction, in her own editorial published that day characterized Pence’s decision as an abrupt about-face made under “intense lobbying from out-of-state special interests.”