A federal regulation that sets high standards for transportation safety means that Skyline School can no longer relay students from the school to the Head Start program located at Haskins Elementary School in Pratt.


A federal regulation that sets high standards for transportation safety means that Skyline School can no longer relay students from the school to the Head Start program located at Haskins Elementary School in Pratt.

Every child Head Start transports must be in a 5-point harness and there must be an additional person on the bus to serve as a monitor, said GeoReta Jones, Head Start director for the Garden City region, which includes the Pratt program. School districts providing transportation are held to the same standard as Head Start.

Transportation is an optional or auxiliary service, not a required one, Jones said, and with limited resources Head Start cannot provide transportation for every child. As an example, she said children in three classes in Garden City receive transportation; those in four classes do not. Pratt children are transported to school in a Head Start-owned bus with the appropriate safety equipment and a paid monitor.

The Skyline bus picks up Kayla Durall’s older daughter in Coats and last year also brought her younger child to Skyline, from where she and other children were taken to Haskins. This year a neighbor, who also has a Head Start child, gets the children to school and Durall takes her lunch hour four days a week to return them home at the end of their half-day program.

After a few problems getting started last year, her daughter loves school.

“I don’t want to say, ‘I’m sorry, honey, we can’t afford to take you to school because the gas is killing us,’” Durall said.

She did not feel her questions — Why? and Who do we contact to get it changed? — were being answered.

“We understand what these parents are feeling,” Jones commented, adding that she and the transportation coordinator in Garden City are not hard to contact via a toll-free telephone number. After a conversation with Head Start staff in Pratt, she believes the two children in Coats are the only out-of-district students wanting transportation.

They are working with school districts one by one to meet regulations, she said, but with no funding increases in seven years and increasing requirements, they are trying to spread resources out in a lot of places.

“If we don’t meet requirements we could lose funding for the whole program,” Jones said. “We’ll get there. Pratt and Skyline have been very cooperative to work with.”

Head Start targets children in families living at or below the poverty level as well as children with disabilities and special needs to improve their readiness to learn. Services include medical and dental screenings, immunizations and parental support in addition to its early education program.