Parents worried over future of Shoals Head Start program - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Parents worried over future of Shoals Head Start program

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FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) -

A Shoals school district said a generous donation to keep Head Start programs open during the shutdown may too good to be true.

Texas philanthropists, Laura and John Arnold, donated the money after learning the shutdown impacted more than 7,000 children.

The Florence City School District is hesitant about the money and how it will affect the future of the program.  Superintendent Dr. Janet Womack said she knows closing Handy Head Start is not what's best for the children. However, she said the district has to be careful when it comes to making financial decisions based on promises without guarantees from the government.

"We've made a call to the office of the Head Start director in Washington, D.C., and she has not advised us. She says if we choose to accept the funding that we must know that there is the potential that once the grant money is restored that it may not be retroactive and that repayment statement that is in the statement from the actual Head Start Association and the Angel Funding, there's a conflict there," said Womack.

Parents said they were excited to learn about a potential angel donor this morning, however, they said it was a big let down when they learned the district may not use the offer.

"It's just devastating to think, you get your hopes up. You wake up and you see something good and think they may go on throughout the year and then you find out you have to pay the money back. It's not a donation, it's a loan so it just kind of crushes your spirits... it just makes you feel bad," said Brittany Simpson.

As of right now the plan to close Handy Head Start on Friday remains in place. The parent committee said they are still planning a pep-rally to coincide with Florence's homecoming week on Friday. They said Friday's event will be a celebration for the children and a reminder to all of how important Handy is to the community.

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