Anna Simo, BCAA director, broke the news to commissioners Monday during their meeting.
“This means that if BCAA wishes to continue receiving Head Start funding, we are going to have to be a part of a competitive process to do so,” she said.
“If we do apply for the program along with other agencies, and there would be another agency that would be successful and we weren’t, (then) the Head Start funding would go to that agency.”
Now, this doesn’t mean that Head Start is going away. It just means there is the possibility that it would not be run by BCAA under the management of Bee County.
“This is the first year we have ever been through this process,” Simo said. “This is the first time in 33 years.”
However, Simo said that she wasn’t even willing to go on the record Monday about what will become of Head Start right now because so much is unknown about the competitive bid process for this grant.
“I don’t have a crystal ball to say somebody is going to get it,” she said. “It just depends on who applies for the funding opportunities.”
Judge David Silva asked, “Let’s say we are not successful, and somebody else takes it over. What would that do to BCAA?”
Simo responded, “What that does to BCAA—BCAA would no longer operate its largest program, which would be the Head Start program, which would mean the loss of $3 million of revenue coming in.
“Which would mean 70 employees would not be working in Head Start.”
Commissioner Carlos Salazar interjected, “You just said that if we don’t get it, another entity might get it. There would still be teachers and teachers aides at that location.”
However, it is likely that if BCAA is unsuccessful in receiving the grant, those employees would have to reapply for the positions under a different agency.
Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez asked, “What time frame are we looking at?”
Simo responded, “We don’t know yet.
“We don’t know when this funding opportunity is going to be published.
“Our current contract goes through July 31.
“In the letter, it did note this is not a termination or suspension.
“Up until the process is completed and an award is made for our service area, we would still be operating the program.”
Throughout the U.S., there are 103 similar agencies, and in Texas there are 12.
BCAA is in this predicament because they fell below the 90 percentile in a review by the Office of Head Start.
Salazar said, “So 90 percent of the Head Start programs were a little better than we were?”
Simo responded, “Yes.”
“That is not good,” Salazar said.
Simo added, “But that is 90 percent across the nation. Our class scores were passing scores.”
Roxanna Garza, who runs the Head Start program, said that they were notified of their scores back in February 2013, but they did not know the national scores to compare them.
“We knew this could potentially trigger a competition, but we didn’t know for sure,” she said. “Again, this is reflective of a year ago actually.”
Since this evaluation was done, the school has made a multitude of changes.
According to the letter received in February of this year by BCAA, “The average scores from these observations in the domain of class organization was among the lowest 10 percent of all grantees assessed across the county, meaning that 90 percent of Head Start programs had higher scores on the domain that assess the extent to which classroom processes are organized and managed to maximize children’s engagement and learning.”
The letter also reiterates that this is not an immediate suspension of the current grant.
“As noted, Bee Community Action Agency has been designated to compete for renewed funding. This is not a grant termination or suspension notice, but rather a notice that, should your agency wish to continue to receive Head Start funds, Bee Community Action Agency must submit an application pursuant to a funding opportunity announcement that will be published in 2014.
“Other entities in the grantee’s community will have the opportunity to submit applications as well.
“As stated under the final rule, funds will be awarded to the organization, ‘that demonstrates that it is the most qualified entity to deliver a high-quality and comprehensive Head Start or Early Head Start program.’”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.