OAK RIDGE (WATE) – Oak Ridge’s preschool could lose federal funding from Head Start if they don’t make some changes soon. The issue centers around the school’s building that is more than 70 years old.
Lead based paint peeling and single pane windows are a couple of reasons why Head Start may pull hundreds of thousands of dollars from Oak Ridge’s preschool. WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with Jessica Hill who has two four-year-olds at the school and said something needs to be done.
“While I don’t have a safety concern day to day, I do have a safety concern overall as kids are spending a lot of time here,” she said.
The building houses about 200 preschoolers and the district’s administrative offices. It’s more than half a century old and for the last five years, the district has spent more than half a million dollars to keep it operational.
“It’s almost a daily basis where something has to be fixed in this building and when you’re providing an educational facility students, it needs to be the best that we can possibly provide and this building has outlived that scenario,” said School Board Chairman for Oak Ridge Schools Keys Fillauer.
Board members are deciding between four options that include building a new facility, leasing an existing building, renovating the current facility, and dividing the preschool students amongst elementary schools.
Board members with Oak Ridge Schools have to decide on an option by the end of the school year. The board’s chairman told WATE 6 On Your Side that they expect to make a decision after the beginning of 2015.
“We have had a great experience here. The teachers are amazing. They’re highly educated. They care so much about the families. I definitely want to see the future of this preschool succeed,” said Hill.