Officials of the Board of Education and the Public School System have expressed readiness for the upcoming comprehensive review of the Head Start program next month.
Head Start program director Melissa Palacios reported yesterday that a team of federal officials from the Office of Head Start in Region XI had officially notified PSS that the five-day review will take place from March 11 to 15 this year.
Palacios said the review team will specifically check school integrity, child development, degree of family engagement, and thorough observation in the classrooms, among others. The team is also set to interview people and review program files.
Richard Ybarra, program specialist of the Office of Head Start Region XI, and his team were on island last month for a two-day visit. He earlier said that the upcoming tri-annual review will play a pivotal role if the federally-funded Head Start program will remain in the oversight of the school system and its board. At the time, education officials were told that an unsatisfactory result of the review will mean other individuals and groups may be offered the chance to run the program.
Ybarra's team left an exit report identifying deficiencies and concerns that Palacios said are now being addressed.
BOE chair Herman T. Guerrero told Saipan Tribune that next month's review is very critical for the board and the system and is optimistic of favorable results. He instructed colleagues and PSS management to ensure that all documents, records, data, and files are ready for inspection.
Guerrero said the Head Start program is an important element in the success of the PSS Pre-School to Third Grade Initiative, or P-3.
Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, Ed.D., also conveyed the system's “sense of readiness” for the upcoming review. She said the staff are diligent in addressing all team recommendations.
According to Palacios, CNMI Head Start program continues to serve its funded enrollment of 462 children, of which 47 have disabilities. She cited the program's continued compliance with the required wait list for the school year, which has a total of 137 children.
Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children from low-income families ages birth to 5 by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development.