Unlike other areas of the state, McPherson/Marion County Head Start will not reduce services to children or staff levels for the 2013-2014 school year.
Head Start and Early Head Start provide a range of developmental support to low-income families with young children. Both receive federal funds.
Due to a federal sequester in March, however, funding was reduced as part of slashes to non-defense discretionary funding. This will mean Head Start and Early Head Start facilities across the country will have 5 percent less to spend in the 2013-2014 school year.
About 475 fewer Kansas children will receive Head Start services because of these cuts, said Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of the nonprofit Kansas Action for Children. None of these are within McPherson or Marion County, however.
Penny Stoss, McPherson/Marion County Head Start director, said this is because of two main reasons.
The first is because the operation is smaller than others being affected. To avoid staff cuts or cuts to children’s services, Stoss held on some budget items planned for the upcoming year, such as playground equipment and a new vehicle.
The second reason the agency was able to dodge cuts is because of the cooperative with the McPherson school district. The two entities share building space, custodians and educational staff. If it weren’t for this, Stoss said cuts would likely have affected the agency more.
“It makes the dollar stretch further when you have shared resources,” she said. “(The cuts) ended up being better than we thought, but any cuts when you’re using every dollar is hard.”
McPherson/Marion County Head Start provided services to 115  children in the 2012-2013 school year, the total was 236 when At Risk, Special Education and community students were added.
“We’re committed to keeping programs for all the students and families no matter their funding category,” Stoss said for the upcoming school year.
Future years might be a different story. Staff were notified early in the 2012-2013 school year they would not be affected for the upcoming school year, but if budgets continue to be cut as projected, Stoss said cuts may soon come to personnel.
The future is uncertain.
“I wish we knew,” Stoss said of the cuts. “We don’t know when we’ll know, we don’t know how much and we don't know if.”

Contact Jenae Pauls at jpauls@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel.