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Published June 19, 2012, 09:54 PM

Grand Forks' Head Start Program Enrollment Low

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Supporters of the Grand Forks Head Start program are trying to figure out why only half the amount of kids than usual have enrolled for fall preschool.

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Supporters of the Grand Forks Head Start program are trying to figure out why only half the amount of kids than usual have enrolled for fall preschool.

Head Start can handle 357 kids and it's short about 170 kids, and officials aren't sure why.

Typically Head Start has to turn families away from the program because they're at full capacity, but this year, the challenge is figuring out how to fill the open spaces.

"My staff and I are real confused about that, we're not sure why," said Head Start Director Jerry Jonnson.

According to the demographic school report, more three and four year olds should be enrolled in the program.

"We want to start with full capacity, that is our goal," said Jonnson.

Director, Jerry Jonnson isn't sure if people think the program is already closed for registration or if people think they're not eligible. Even if you're not low income, Head Start still accepts over-income applicants.

"Some parents may decide that if they don't think they're income eligible there's no reason to even make an attempt," said a Head Start parent Kelly Hogness.

This will be the first year the program is operating with minimized transportation because of a tight budget, but, still officials don't think that's the problem.

"It doesn't seem to be the reason that people are avoiding filling out the applications so it's too early to tell if transportation is a concern or not," said Hogness.

If enrollment remains low, the program may look into maximizing resources and hours and making all classrooms full day instead of half.

"Probably the most logical move at this point but again it would take a little more information. We have to see exactly how many we have, what our space availability is and then play with those options," said Hogness.

Children who are enrolled in the program receive not only their education but health benefits as well.

And the Grand Forks program covers the Air Force base, Grafton, Langdon, and Cavalier.

The school year starts in September, and they'll make that decision to go full-day as the date nears.

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