By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The District IV Human Resources Development Council wants to build a new $1.5 million home for Head Start.
The Hill County Commission this month will apply for a grant to study the possibility of building the facility east of the HRDC building on Fifth Avenue.
It would consist of six classrooms and 11 offices, Head Start director Frank Witter said.
The cost of the building is expected be between $1.2 and $1.5 million, said Annmarie Robinson, deputy director of Bear Paw Development Corp.
Head Start is making the effort to move to a larger, consolidated facility amid concerns about classroom and office space, Witter said.
Head Start is a national, nonprofit organization that serves the developmental needs of preschool children from low-income families. The program in District IV HRDC has 151 children from Hill, Blaine and Liberty counties.
Located in Highland Park, the current facility is no longer adequate for program's needs, Witter said. Havre's Head Start building barely meets minimum federal space requirements for students, he said.
"We're pushing it pretty hard right now," he said. "Then there's the obvious issue of staff space. (The facility) is outdated, and we've outgrown it."
Part of the problem arose in 2000 with the consolidation of local elementary schools, Witter said. Head Start had used classrooms in several different schools and lost space when the schools merged and Devlin Elementary closed, he added.
The facility in Highland Park consists of three buildings with a total of four classrooms and three offices, which are shared by 10 teachers and a number of aides. The number of students enrolled in the program has necessitated that teachers share classrooms, Witter said, making it difficult to allow ample time for teachers to prepare between classes.
Another problem is that office equipment is located in the basement of one of the buildings, and is not handicap accessible.
The purpose behind building a new school is to "have enough space to accommodate the kids, and in the process, create a safer and healthier environment," he said.
The county is seeking a Community Development Block Grant, a federal program administered by the state.
Hill County will apply for the grant at the request of HRDC. The application Development. The application is due April 25.
The county will request $20,000, which must be matched dollar for dollar by funds from HRDC, Robinson said. The money will be used to hire engineers, architects and environmental experts to examine the potential impacts of building the 12,000-square-foot facility.
If the grant is approved, the money for the study will become available in June, Robinson said.
The next step will be to secure a grant for the actual construction of the building, she said.