Calcasieu Parish Superintendent Wayne Savoy. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Thursday, October 04, 2012 10:37 AM
Calcasieu Parish Superintendent Wayne Savoy encouraged School Board members to support the district’s Head Start program at the monthly board meeting Tuesday evening.
Though no vote on the program was to be taken, Savoy said he wanted to make sure board members realized the importance of the program.
“The emphasis for kindergarten readiness needs to be pre-K and Head Start,” he said. “If children come to kindergarten ready, they have a better chance of succeeding.”
Head Start is a federal program designed to help young children from low-income families feel prepared to start school. In Calcasieu the program primarily serves students who are 3 or 4 years of age.
Savoy said the skills learned in Head Start prepare children for the classroom structure of kindergarten.
“They are learning how to interact. We are sure they are learning their letters and their colors. They are learning to differentiate between shapes,” he said. “It also goes a little beyond the child. The program will offer opportunities for parents to come in. It works with the parents and the child as a family unit. Support for the child and education begins right there.”
He said that Calcasieu recently participated in a pilot program that allowed the district to collect data on students who participated in Head Start versus students from the same areas who had not. He said the results proved the success of the program.
“Those that had not participated in the program were not as ready as those who had come to it,” Savoy said. “And once you get pre-K children on track for kindergarten, then the kindergarten children will be on track for first grade and then being on track continues.”
Currently, 457 students are in the Head Start program in Calcasieu, and more than 130 children are on the waiting list.
“It’s been a successful program. It’s been around since the ’60s, and there are not many federal programs that have,” Savoy said. “It really targets children in high-poverty areas, and it also gives them an opportunity to get to a point in their lives where they can be as successful as anyone else.”
Savoy said he would love to expand the program if he could get the funding for it. He asked board members to contact their state legislators and ask them to support state funding for Head Start.
“One of the state Department of Education’s critical goals is to have all children ready to enter school. How can you be ready to enter school if you do not mandate kindergarten and you do not fund pre-K?” he said.
“I certainly hope that if we have opportunities to expand our Head Start program in Calcasieu Parish that our board would certainly look on that in a positive way.”