In November of 2012, Island Early Care & Education Center, also known as Head Start, moved from its building in Stonington into Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School.
Since then, the building that had housed the Head Start program from 1976 to 2012 has sat vacant. Child and Family Opportunities, the organization that operates Head Start programs for Hancock and Washington counties, is still paying for its maintenance and upkeep.
As soon as some final details are worked out with the federal government, that building should be for sale, said CFO Director of Finance and Administration Robert Brown.
“Since federal dollars were involved in the purchase, we need their authority to sell it,” said Brown. The details of how that sale might proceed are still in the works, he continued, though he said CFO is eager to sell the building.
The 2012 move was prompted by budget cuts due to sequestration at the federal level and other budget cuts at the state level.
Head Start is funded by federal dollars, though CFO receives some state funding as well, which typically allows CFO to extend programming to more children. CFO operates 11 centers in Hancock and Washington counties. In 2011, state funding was cut from $393,000 to $71,000. As a result, CFO closed two classrooms at centers in Bucksport and Ellsworth and sought to decrease other costs as much as possible.
The funds from the sale of the Stonington building will likely return to the federal government. Brown said CFO has petitioned for some of the cuts over the past few years to be reinstated, referring to the sale of the building as a potential source of increased funding.
According to the Town of Stonington, the land the Head Start property is on is assessed at $23,500 and the building is valued at $105,700 for a total tax-exempt assessed value of $129,200.
“We’d like to see someone using it,” said Brown of the building. “It’s a perfect location. We’re just waiting for something official.”
For more information about CFO and Head Start, visit childandfamilyopp.org.