Budget cuts for the Head Start program will have less of an impact on Regional School Unit 3 than anticipated, but school officials still expect some restructuring in the program.

Superintendent Heather Perry told school board members the majority of the cuts to the program were focused mainly on day care and home visits.

However, one of the changes parents could expect is to see the program decrease from four full days to three full days with the fourth day being a home visit, Perry said.

The district briefly considered cutting the AESOP program, but a late enrollment spike prevented the cut from happening.

“We did talk about combining Morse and Monroe but the numbers recently jumped significantly, so we will keep them separate,” Perry said.

Perry said there is “substantive demand” for the Head Start programs within the school community and the district fully supports the program. She said cutting the program could have a significant impact on students who will no longer be receiving services.

During a discussion in April about the impact of cutting funding to the program, social service providers highlighted some of the issues that can arise when children don’t have access to the programs offered by Head Start.

Bruce Mailloux, superintendent of RSU 20, said the problems are most noticeable when a child enters kindergarten without knowing any numbers or colors. He said those children lose self-esteem and then continue to struggle throughout their academic careers.

Katherine Johnston, Head Start director for Waldo County, said the cuts are going “to hurt,” but what area the decreased funding will impact the most is still to be determined.

“Last year all of our staff had a two hour reduction and the administration had a two week layoff,” Johnston said.

As a result of the funding cuts, Johnston said the Head Start program will be able to provide services to 20 percent of the families who qualify. In previous years, Head Start was able to provide services for 30 percent of the families who qualified — a number that was still inadequate in regards to how many families requested services, Johnston said.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.