Shelby County Head Start


February 25, 2014

As I was reviewing information from the County concerning the new 2014 healthcare rates for active employees I came across a listing for rates for 10 month employees. I asked about this and they told me that these were the employees for the Shelby County Head Start Program. I remembered the proposed 1/2% sales tax proposal for the City for a pre K type program which failed to get the votes. However I did not know about the County program. I asked how many employees were involved, what did it cost and who was paying.

The County is great and fully transparent about answering questions in contrast to the City of Memphis, the old Memphis School System and the new Shelby County School system.

Well here are some details. The Executive Director is John Lovelace and he is paid a salary of $116,471.00 per year. According to his statement on the Shelby County Government website Head Start is a comprehensive child development program that serves pregnant moms and children, ages birth to five. Last year they served 3186 children and 128 children and pregnant moms. Porter Leath and Goodwill Homes are involved. Go here to see the areas served.

What does it cost? It is hard to tell but I figure about $10,000 per person helped, about the same as the cost per student of our public school system. Here is a list of salaries. Most of the salaries are listed by hourly rates which would be for 10 months at 40 hours per week. A class room teacher at $22.10 per hour would earn about $36,800 per year. Add to this the cost of health care and other benefits. The larger salaries shown are multiplied by 24 (paid twice a month) for annual salaries. It is my understanding that the salaries are paid for by all taxpayers through federal grants.

How effective are these programs? That is the real question. How do you measure the effectiveness? I don’t know but I would like to see some statistics to prove this money is being spent for measurable results in the lives of those targeted children and pregnant Moms.

One Response to “Shelby County Head Start”

  1. I attended a Porter-Leath tour last year. The staff person leading the tour said that since the Head Start program at Porter-Leath was of fairly short duration, they could not document any particular academic outcomes for the program at this point. That said, the Porter-Leath program is very impressive in terms of the cleanliness of the facility and the obvious dedication of the teachers and all the administrative staff.
    I agree with Mr. Saino that the “proof is in the pudding.” National research suggests that although there is an initial academic benefit, most of the demonstrated academic benefit disappears after the third grade. I haven’t seen any explanation for that disappearance.

Leave a Reply