Good news for Ashland Head Start

By: Tammy Andrews

This Head Start program were to be evicted from a building they have occupied for over 40 years in less than three weeks and closed permanently, without even allowing the 58 student enrolled to finish out the 2013-14 school year. But don’t count them out just yet…. this cowardly eviction might just turn out to be a blessing in disguise after A LOT of time and effort and most of all, hard work.

Ashland Head Start
Ashland Head Start

I have confirmed the Ashland Head Start program has been given permission by Superintendent Garey Reynolds and the CCBOE use of the former Ashland Primary Building for the 2014-15 calendar year for the price of $300 a month. This amount will be a 33% increase over the amount they had been paying, and will stretch the allowance of their annual budget, but will still be achievable.

The State VFW has agreed to allow the 58 students now enrolled to remain in their building until the 2013-14 school draws to a close in mid-May.

To my knowledge, the state VFW’s eviction decision has nothing to do with our local VFW members.

The Ashland Head Start has been leasing the VFW building for almost 40 years now. In the beginning, this one building was nothing more than hollow walls. Throughout the years, the improvements to this building included:

  • partitioning to build classrooms
  • additional office space construction
  • fencing in the area
  • a new roof
  • an outer building for storage
  • playground equipment (which they are allowed to take)

These improvements total somewhere in the vicinity of $90,000. The VFW is asking a selling price of $100,000.

Keep in mind that these VFW members were not even aware these improvements had even been made and were asking $1000 monthly rent from AHS. However, the entire story changed when they sent a representative out to view the property. After seeing these improvements, the AHS Director was informed by the representative they were no longer interested in renting, and had decided to sell. The students and staff were given 60 days to evacuate. This representative has been the only face they have seen, none of the state VFW members will come out to speak to anyone with this program.

The legalities of this move are now in the process with contracts and such. It is unknown at this time what kind of legal action the Head Start program will pursue.

Now, here is where the hard work comes in and you can help…

When it comes times for the move in mid-May, AHS staff will be in DESPERATE NEED of volunteers in many areas in order to have this facility ready in time for the 2014-15 school year.

They are asking businesses, high school students, organizations, and any citizens interested for donations of the following:

  • Paint
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Vehicles to help move equipment, etc:
  • Window replacement
  • People willing to help assist with heavy lifting
  • Window replacement (not up to code)

And the list goes on and on…

All of these people and items needed will not be a paid service, but your public service will be documented as in-kind dollars- meaning the more volunteer services this center has, the more federal funds this center can get, which will benefit this local program tremendously.

Volunteering your time and efforts could build a bigger budget for this program, therefore will result in an increase in student enrollment. With the current space they have now, the Head Start program is only allowed 60 students, but moving into a larger facility could mean a big expansion in the program with student enrollment and more job opportunities.

Clay County citizens has always stepped up in times of great need and I can’t think of a better need than this one. I urge all of our high school teachers who are in the position to organize a “field trip” with your students to perform this community service. And any other organization who would like to be a part of building this program, please don’t hesitate to extend a helping hand. So, all of you politicians and county officials, it’s time for you to step up…  After all, the children are our future, and you never know how this program could enhance their lives….

Anyone interested in making a donation can contact Ashland Head Start 256-354-2553 and speak with Helen Simmons.

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