The government shutdown closed the book on its first full day at midnight, Wednesday. However, its heat already spread like wild fire.
Superintendent of Dothan City Schools, Tim Wilder, said, “We start fiscal year 2014 with no funds.”
The impact shut down Dothan’s federally funded Head Start Program and Pre-kindergarten class at Faine Elementary school. It left the Dothan City School Board with two options: hold back 324 children from early education, and let 45 employees go jobless, or dive into local funds head first.
“That’s what that’s money for, to handle the unforeseeable, and we didn’t see this coming,” said Wilder.
Board members unanimously voted to fund these programs for 20 days. It will cost around $345,000, but it is money they have been saving for emergencies like this.
Representative of Alabama’s 86th District, Paul Lee, said he admired their decision.
“They have done an excellent job, stepping up to the plate making sure that those that are working have noticed that there could be an end date 20 days down the road, and more importantly, that the parents and the children that are involved will have an opportunity to know when that end date is,” he said.
Board members agreed it was a no brainer to look out for the children.
Wilder explained, “These are the most needy in our community. They qualify to be in there, their parents are working two or three jobs to make ends meet, and these are the people we need to fight for.”
For now, all eyes are glued to Congress. If the shutdown lasts five to ten more days, federal cuts could come to IDA and Title 1 programs in Dothan. It will affect at least 200 jobs and thousands of students.