Head Start coming to Jemison

Published 2:44 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Head Start is returning to Jemison following a vote by the Chilton County Board of Education to allow the program to use school system property that was not in use.

A lease agreement request was approved 4 to 3 during the March 20 meeting. Board members Curtis Smith, Keith Moore and Joe Mims along with Board President Lori Patterson voted in favor. Board members Jim Shannon, Linda Hand and Pam Price voted against.

Shannon expressed concern that the school system could be held responsible if a lawsuit was ever won against the Head Start program for more than the program’s liability insurance would cover. Board Attorney John Hollis Jackson said it could but would likely “depend on the liability of the school system, if they did anything to create the incident that led to the suit.”

“Here’s my concern, since it is not going to be the school system’s Head Start, it is going to be the city of Jemison’s Head Start, are we sticking our neck out for the future if there is an incident?” Shannon said.

Price asked if the Head Start would be leasing the property for free. School Superintendent Tommy Glasscock said the property and modular classrooms would be leased for $1 per year.

“We just recently leased the old Adair property to the County Commission for 99 years, so if liability is an issue, then we would be liable,” Glasscock said, highlighting that the Head Start lease was not setting a precedent.

The City of Jemison has received a $300,000 grant to establish the program. Mims pointed out that there had been a Head Start on the same property in the past.

According to Patterson, this property had been leased to Kids First Community Center earlier this school year before the program moved to Fifth Avenue in Clanton. The board officially approved having the program at the location for the remainder of the school year during the March 20 meeting.

Glasscock said having a Head Start in Jemison would serve 3 and 4 year olds.

“I thought it was a pretty good option,” Glasscock said. “This will in all likelihood close the Maplesville and that (Jemison) will be the central location.”

The Chilton County Schools preschool programs in Jemison start at age 4.

Special Education Coordinator Michelle Coppedge said having a Head Start in the area would provide an additional place to serve students with special needs. She said her department works with children 3 to 5 years old, regardless of whether or not they are in a preschool program or not.

Also during the meeting:

— Price asked that funding for facilities be evaluated to find a way to eliminate the need for modular classrooms on campuses.

“We need a building to put those students in, and I think that is a bigger priority than maybe some of our other things,” Price said.

— The board designated April as Autism Awareness Month.

— The board approved hiring several substitute teachers and a construction supervisor.

— The board approved Saturday School if needed for students to make up days missed.

— Patterson announced that Jackson was resigning as the board attorney.