Phoenicia will lose Head Start program

By Jay Braman Jr.
The federally-funded Head Start program in Phoenicia has been given the axe.

A popular preschool program tailor made for low-income families, Head Start has for years been a staple in this hamlet, providing quality service for children from birth to age five by enhancing the child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development, as well as providing advocacy services to the families of those children.

But this is to be the last session for the program. According to Onteora Central School officials, Phoenicia Head Start will not reopen in September despite the fact that nine children are already enrolled in the program.

Ulster County Head Start took a five and-a-quarter percent budget cut this year, leaving $2.5 million to operate programs countywide.

The Phoenicia branch, located on the grounds of the Phoenicia Elementary School, is small, only able to handle 15 children. Also, Phoenicia has high transportation costs associated with the program due to the large size of the service area.

In addition to pre-school education, Head State children also got nutritional meals each day. Head Start also provided special education screening and English as-a-second-language service for those in need.

About a decade ago, Head Start in Phoenicia faced closure, but outcry from the community forced Ulster County officials to reconsider.