A vote by the Board Monday night brought tears to the eyes of Principal Penny Stocks.
The —gained approval in a 6-0 vote after much discussion. Within moments of the vote, Stocks was surrounded by parents offering congratulatory hugs and cheers.
The vote drew applause from the audience—many of whom attended the meeting specifically for the Head Start vote. Board President Judy Gafa was the only board member to not vote as she was absent from Monday's meeting but she had spoken in favor of the program last year and again this year.
Stocks said afterward she is happy the program has finally been approved and explained she believes it is what is best for not only her school but also the district and the individual students who will benefit from the program.
The program was introduced by Stocks last school year after she had gone through an intensive inspection and application process with the federally funded program aimed at helping preschoolers develop the appropriate skills to prepare them academically for kindergarten.
In , the board voted against allowing Head Start to have a program located in Poupard despite having a waiting list for such a program.
After several of the school board members spoke Monday night about why they intended to support the program this year, board member Brendan Walsh said he was glad to hear that the board would be voting in favor of it regardless of their reasons. He also said he believes the board was undoing an action that caused the district "national embarrassment."
Board member Tom Jakubiec questioned Walsh's description and defended the board's decision from last year, explaining he had many unanswered questions—all of which have been answered in the presentations given this year.
Board member Joan Dindoffer, who was one of the members who voted against it the first time, was the only member to offer reasoning at the time of the vote. She felt it violated the district's policies regarding allowing outside organizations to hold meetings or other events during the school day.
Dindoffer, who voted in favor of the program this year, said she was thankful that district officials were patient in allowing and strive for the same objectives.
The 20-student classroom will begin next school year and Stocks said she believes it will easily be filled with all students from the Grosse Pointe Public School District—which was another concern for some of the board members.
When the program was turned down last year, Stocks had 16 students on the list for it. Last month, she explained she already had about a dozen for next school year and expected that number to easily reach 20.
As a condition to his vote in favor of the program Monday, Jakubiec requested from the district to receive bi-monthly reports on the exact number of students enrolled in the 20-student capacity preschool room who are from within the district as well as the total number of late pickups of children in the program. He explained he is worried about the use of district resources for children who are picked up late and technically not part of the school's staff's responsibility.
In addition, Jakubiec asked for detailed financial to show the transfer of funds from the federal government into Grosse Pointe Public School district funds, emphasizing that he wants to ensure the program really is free to the district.
Stocks said she's happy to offer any information the board would like—as she has been since last year—and is happy to finally gain approval.
Rather than making a brisk exit from this meeting as she did last year, Stocks left clutching a tissue and dabbing her eyes.