During the College Station school board regular meeting on Tuesday, Board President Jeff Harris announced the resignation of trustee Michael Wesson.
A district release noted Wesson, who was not at the meeting, has accepted the position as department chair in Auburn University’s department of management.
“I appreciate the time I was able to serve on the board and learned a tremendous amount during my two terms in office,” Wesson said in the press release. “College Station has a fantastic school district, and I consider it nothing but an honor to have had the opportunity to serve the community as a school board trustee.”
Wesson, who was first elected in 2013, had previously announced he would not be running for re-election for his Place 3 seat and will be replaced by Joshua Benn, beginning at the November board meeting.
During the meeting, the board unanimously voted 5-0 to cancel the election, as none of the candidates for the three trustee spots up for election are contested. Neither of the current trustees whose terms end in November — Harris and Quinn Williams — are running for re-election. Jeffrey Horak and Kimberly McAdams will be sworn in at the November meeting as their replacements.
Also during the meeting, the five board members present approved the district’s Head Start self-assessment.
The district is required to present the program’s self-assessment every year for the board’s approval.
Susan Heath, the district’s new director of early education services, told the board during her presentation the Birth to Five Head Start program served 344 people — 328 children and 16 pregnant women.
One of the strengths Heath noted came in the family engagement category with an 80% parent participation rate.
In the community, Heath reported, the population served by Head Start has a low unemployment rate, but a high level of poverty, which is what determines Head Start eligibility.
“Housing is expensive and becoming rarer and rarer to find for low-income families,” she said. “Transportation is always an issue in our community.”
Transportation is something Heath expects to improve upon in the future, as 33% of Head Start students and 56% of pre-kindergarten students are not on their home campuses because of space limitations.
As an example, Heath said, only 30 of the 83 early education students zoned for College Hills Elementary School are enrolled at that campus. The other students must go to Forest Ridge, requiring families to provide transportation.
“That means low-income families are driving 34 miles a day or 688 miles a month, and that gas money could equate to food on the table,” she said.
Heath said she also wants more early childhood students to attend their home campus.
One of the biggest shifts in the early education department, she said, is the addition of full-day pre-kindergarten, as mandated by House Bill 3 that was signed by the governor over the summer.
The district opened the school year with eight full-day pre-kindergarten classes and by Tuesday had expanded to 10 classrooms. The district is relying on its existing partnership with Head Start to provide access to early childhood education before expanding full-day pre-kindergarten to every elementary campus.
In total, the early education department serves 500 students between Early Head Start, Head Start and pre-kindergarten.
As the district expands its full-day pre-kindergarten offerings, Heath said, she hopes the department can open Head Start to more 3-year-olds as 4-year-olds enroll in pre-kindergarten.