Aug 21, 2013 11:19 PM by Mike Manzoni -- email@example.com
CORPUS CHRISTI -- Across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration have hit local Head Start programs, leaving fewer spots available for children who in some cases do not otherwise have access to early education.
The federal government has cut about $400 million from the national program which funds pre-school for low-income children and families. Head Start centers in Corpus Christi received $500,000 less than last year, leaving 50 fewer spots for qualified children.
"The effects are going to be devastating to some families," said Ray McMurrey, president of the local American Federation of Teachers chapter. "That's 50 children that are not going to have access to Head Start."
McMurrey said one of the city's 16 centers will close, and student to teacher ratios will increase, meaning fuller classrooms.
The steep cuts have hit programs across the state. Head Start programs in Texas will begin the school year with 17,000 fewer spots, and they will have to lay off more than 4,000 employees.
"We really are balancing the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable children in our society, and it's not acceptable," said McMurrey.
Unless lawmakers in Washington take action, the cuts will remain for a decade, and Head Start expects next year's to be even deeper.