Connect: Head Start Extended

Questions about whether the Head Start program for economically disadvantaged children would be better served by continuing with Kalamazoo County as its administrator had been making headlines when we decided ask two county commissioners to talk with us about their thoughts on the debate.

Brian Johnson, with 15 years of experience on the Kalamazoo County Commission, is a Democrat. John Gisler is a relative newcomer with about 15 months in on the board. A Republican, Gisler is also spokesman for the Kalamazoo Citizens for Responsible Government, which is known for being skeptical of government programs.

The two came to Connect’s offices on March 15, before the commission voted on the Head Start issue. We wanted to give viewers a chance to see the process and information Gisler and Johnson were using to form their opinions.

Although the social liberal and fiscal conservative have clashed over county proposals in the past, the two were united in their view on Head Start: That whatever happened with the program, it must be done with the best interest of the children in mind.

On March 20, Johnson, Gisler and the rest of the county board voted unianimously to endorse the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency’s bid to administer the Head Start program, which provides services to more than 600 children.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will decide the program administrator by September.