WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Trumbull Community Action Program’s Head Start Program is just now welcoming students back for the first day.
The school year was delayed by two weeks due to a lack of transportation.
The preschool kindergarten readiness program normally contracts their transportation out to Community Busing, but this year, they were told about a week before the start of classes that there weren’t enough drivers.
“We only have two drivers that are on TCAP’s payroll, and so of course, that’s not enough. We normally want about 10 to 12 routes a year, and so we had to push classes,” said Toni Heller, Head Start Director.
Heller says they still have not been able to resolve the issue. She says they are in the works with Brookfield School District to see if they can provide services to some of their sites.
“Our program knows that we cannot survive without transportation. Many of our families do not have adequate transpiration to get their children to and from school,” Heller said.
The Head Start program has about $450,000 in grant money that must be used by October 31 of this year, and that’s just for transportation salaries, so the issue is not the money. It’s fining the drivers.
Head Start CEO Van Nelson says they are in dire need.
“This is the worst it’s been ever. Last year, we had some issues but nothing to the proportion that we are experiencing right now,” Nelson said.
The program could have pushed the start date back even later.
They decided against it because it would’ve pushed the end of the school year later into the summer.
“Our numbers are lower and they are expected to be lower. Right now, we have about 300 children registered and we’re expecting to see about 175 that actually show up on the first day,” Heller said.
The Head Start Program is actively seeking other partners to provide transportation and are willing to pay a competitive wage for drivers.
They say their main focus is on children whose families do not have a car at home.