Jackson spoke at length about the need to partner with community agencies who could run Head Start at a lower rate. A partner classroom would cost the district $8,300 while a Head Start class run inside the district would cost $11,700, she said.
The district has budgeted $68.5 million for Head Start programs in the current school year; 6,182 kids are served by the program.
Federal Title I funds make up 26 percent of the program's revenue and those funds, which also go toward other programs, are expected to fall by $70 to $80 million in fiscal year 2014, district Chief Financial Officer Matt Stanski estimated. He attributed the drop to the end of stimulus funding, federal budget cuts known as "the sequester" and a general reduction in Title I funds.
The program received $17.9 million in Title I funding this school year.
Christie Balka, director of child care and budget policy at Public Citizens for Children and Youth, expressed concerns about the potential for cuts to early education programs to the SRC.
"It seems every year I have testified about the need for the school district to provide more high-quality pre-k, not less," Balka said.
Pre-k capacity has declined 10 percent in five years, she said, warning that "if close attention is not paid, the district could lose an important educational asset."