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Sequester Cuts Hurting School Programs



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A program designed to make sure children from low income families are able to go to pre-school is cutting back because of the sequester. Early and Head Start Programs, which rely on federal grants, are being crippled by a 5 percent cut.

For the little ones that attend the Head Start Programs in Madison, they won't be seeing any new faces this school year.
     
 Kathryn Natwick the Director of Inter-lakes Community Action Partnership said, "It's a very sad situation. It’s like we have all of these empty seats, and no one to fill them."
    
Inter-lakes Community Action Partnership is a non-profit organization that oversees Head Start Programs in 14 different counties in South Dakota. Natwick said even though the 5.3 percent budget cut may not seem like a lot on paper, overall the programs have lost over $206,000 in federal funding this year.
     
 "We all know how important early childhood education is for a child later on in life," said Natwick.

The Early Head Start Program, which is for children ages zero to three, had over $107,000 cut. The Head Start Program, which is for children ages three to five, had nearly $100,000 cut.  Although these cuts affect all of the programs the organization oversees, Madison's programs are taking the biggest hit.

 "We've had 32 child slots cut from our program," Natwick said.
     
So that means a brand new building, which was built so the program could expand, won't be serving its purpose.

Natwick said it took five years for the Madison program to finally get its new home. Now with the budget cuts there are more empty chairs than planned, and it's making her nervous.

"They're planning on cutting funds for 10 years. Head Start won't be able to survive with that,” Natwick said.

But Natwick said she hopes for the childrens' sake it won't come to that. These innocent faces deserve to get the same schooling other kids get, even if their families can’t afford it.

On September 27, there will be an open house and ribbon cutting for the new school building in Madison.
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