BOSTON (CBS) – When the school year begins this fall at least 2,015 children in Massachusetts will not be able to get a seat in a Head Start classroom.
Three-year-old Miles Kollie doesn’t know a lot about the word “sequestration,” but his mother Elizabeth has learned the hard way.
“To tell me that my seat got cut, it was frustrating,” Kollie tells WBZ-TV.
Kollie lost her son’s seat at the nearby ABCD Gertrude Townsend Head Start in Dorchester – a federally funded program for preschoolers like Miles to get a jump start on their education.
Director Marchelle Raynor is being forced to close two classrooms at her site because of the sweeping federal budget cuts enacted by Congress to reduce the nation’s deficit.
“This room would have had two teaching staff and 20 children in it. This year it ends up being a space,” said Raynor.
In all, she’ll have 33 empty seats, and the two staff members have been laid off.
“We’re frustrated because this is people, not just dollars. I don’t think the federal government realizes what the impact will be,” she said.
The Head Start program had to absorb a five percent spending cut with no sign of it being restored any time soon. Without her son in school, Elizabeth Kollie may have to delay going back to school herself.
“It’s a heartbreaking decision. I could wait and do a winter semester and hope I can figure it out before then,” said Kollie.
Plenty of parents have been shaken, and it means students already in the program are lucky to have secured a seat before the cuts that were more widespread than expected.
“I feel like there’s hope because I have hope he’ll go to school,” she said.
She’ll check frequently on the waiting list and then hope Congress reconsiders.