CPCD builds its own Head Start classroom

       For years, Head Start has been a regular presence in Westside elementary schools. This has changed slightly this year: While the agency's programs are continuing at Pike and Bristol, a classroom is now being offered in a non-school location, at a newly remodeled building at 2340 Robinson St.
       The building belongs to the Community Partnership for Child Development (CPCD), which administrates the Head Start program for the Pikes Peak Region out of a neighboring building at 2330 Robinson.
       This is the first time CPCD has provided its own classroom. It replaces last year's location in an older Midland Elementary portable.
       The eventual CPCD plan, expected to culminate over the next two years, is to have five classrooms in the Robinson Street building. According to Noreen Landis-Tyson, the agency's president and CEO, the goal is “to be flexible in meeting the early- childhood education needs of our children and families.”
       The preference is still “to have our preschool classrooms in elementary schools so that children become comfortable with a school environment before kindergarten,” but by hosting its own classes CPCD broadens its range of options, Landis said.
       Examples are continuing classes year-round - sometimes awkward to do in schools that close for the summer - and trying out innovative early-education approaches that might not mesh with current school curriculums. One idea, still being developed, is for a preschool in which the entire program would be taught in both English and Spanish. If this could be coordinated with an area school district, “we'd have students who were biliterate and bilingual by the time they were through elementary school,” Landis said.
       The classroom plan is in keeping with a recent CPCD six-month planning study, which, according to Landis, included a call for “expanding comprehensive services.”
       CPCD began renovating the 2340 Robinson building in 2003, first creating office space for several administrative departments and more recently developing the first infant/toddler classroom and an accompanying playground. The overall cost was about $250,000, with most of the cost covered by grants; additionally, Landis said, considerable savings were experienced by using ComCor's Home Builders Institute, which does not charge for labor because it uses citizens who have been sentenced by judges to do community service work.
       The building had formerly been used by the Board of Co-Operative Educa-tional Services (BOCES - an alternative high school) until 2003.
       Head Start offers free classes to low-income families and special-needs children. In addition, Head Start provides children with medical and dental screenings and works with their families.

Westside Pioneer article