With the Head Start preschool program in Booneville set to be shuttered, a couple of people involved with the high school’s robotics team reached out to one of their contacts.
The end result is BRU Inc. International will be operating the Academy for Excellence International preschool at 323 East Venable, which is a county owned the Head Start program was operated from, beginning on Aug. 21.
“When it shut down, there was a need for child development in the community,” said Dustin Garrett.
The Booneville School District expanded its pre-kindergarten program by 20, to 100 students, but that would still have left a hole, said Garrett, who is also a Booneville School Board member.
“The school can really only take the pre-kindergarten so that left an age group of kids that there wasn’t any services for, so we reached out to BRU and they decided they would come in,” said Garrett. “Our role with it as far as the robotics team, is we have relationships here to help them get things in place and get set up.”
Garrett, who was joined in the effort locally by David Fritsche, said judging from the number of applications the academy is receiving a need is being met.
“That place closing (for good) the effects really would propagate out where you’ve got families who if they have to have childcare they’re going to have to drive — I think the closest ARVAC facility is in Paris — so they’re going to have to take their kids to Paris or find one somewhere else,” said Garrett. “It would cost them more money to drive, more time.
“I can assure you from the enrollment we’re getting right now (the facility) is entirely needed.
The facility is licensed by the Department of Human Services to serve 77 children in ages from infant to school age, Garrett said.
Applications for the program are available at City Hall or can be acquired through the city’s website, http://www.cityofbooneville.com through a drop down menu labeled Center for Excellence, according to Garrett.
Pageant Ferriabough owns the BRU company which also operates a child development center in Tulsa, Garrett said.
“This facility is going to be a little different than what everybody is used to. The curriculum she uses is an early education center, it’s not a day care,” said Garrett. “Her curriculum is unbelievable. It’s not like anything I’ve seen before here.
“Hopefully it’s going to have an impact that spreads and sits the bar for early education.”
There wasn’t a terrible amount of work required to prepare the facility other than cleaning the landscape and applying a fresh coat of paint.
“It was in really good shape,” Garrett said of the building.
Anyone wanting to get a look at the center can do so during a block party set for Saturday, Aug. 17, during which time there will be food, drinks and attractions, as well as applications.
Brittanhy McNutt will serve as the center’s director.