Local credit union donates $25K to help keep Head Start buses running

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — A local credit union is urging other companies to give after donating $25,000 to help keep Head Start buses running in Lancaster County.

On Nov. 1, more than 100 Lancaster County children ages 4 and under won't have a bus to ride to school anymore because the district is cutting funding for Head Start buses.

[PDF: Head Start letter to local businesses]

School officials said Head Start is a federal program and as costs have gone up, funding hasn't kept pace. Channel 9 learned the district would have to come up with $150,000 to keep the five Head Start buses running.

[Parents say program designed to help kids in need prepare for kindergarten failed]

Indian Land-based Sharonview Credit Union announced Monday that after our report, it has decided to donate $25,000 to the Lancaster County School District to help fund buses for the program.

Sharonview President and CEO Bill Partin also sent out a letter to local business leaders urging them to donate to reach the remaining balance.

Somewhere between 100 and 120 Head Start students will have to find another way to get to school now, unless new funding is found.

Now, with the credit union's big check plus other money from Lancaster school's budget, some of the buses will keep running.

Lancaster Head Start will go from five buses to two, but they will be able to carry about 80 of the 100 children who rode the bus before.

Families can be entered into a lottery to determine who fills those spots. Infants in car seats will no longer be able to ride the buses.

Every afternoon, Corie Brown meets her three grandchildren at the Head Start bus stop in front of her home. She said she got a letter from the school detailing the changes when her grandchildren got off the bus.

"I was so shocked and hurt," Brown said.

Lancaster County Schools has funded Head Start buses for decades, even though it's not required. Most other school systems don't provide busing for the program.

Brown said her own kids rode a bus to Head Start 20 years ago.

"I was speechless," she said. "My husband and I were trying to figure out, who do we need to call? What do we need to do?"

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The district said it can't meet tighter federal regulations and it's too expensive to pay adult aides to ride with the children.

Many of the children ride in car seats, which means extra adults must ride those buses with the driver.

The director of Head Start in Lancaster said she couldn't do an interview on camera but said the program is looking for new funding, which could come from grants.