The Telamon Corporation hasn’t made the best entrance into Sampson County. With its lack of communication and a less-than eager sense of cooperation, the new Head Start program grantee has not shown the community spirit one would expect from a group whose focus is supposed to be children.
That’s most especially true in Garland, where their lack of communication has left 60 children with no local Head Start to attend come September.
While the premise for not opening the Garland Head Start facility is sound — safety issues abound — the late discovery of the building’s problems and the total disregard for alerting parents to its closure and the need to have children bussed to Roseboro is both unprofessional and unacceptable.
It’s no wonder Garland town officials are crying foul.
The town’s Board of Commissioners, as well as parents of Head Start children, were blind-sided just over a week ago when they were told myriad building code issues had forced the closure of the local facility and would necessitate the busing of youngsters to another school in Roseboro.
A walking tour of the facility earlier this week only served to compound the already serious problem and open the eyes of town officials, parents and this newspaper of the poor handling of the matter by Telamon.
Like parents, we have to wonder why earlier notification wasn’t made, both of the building’s problems and of the potential busing situation? After all, the federal government awarded the Head Start contract, and thus the funding to operate, to Telamon in May, with the official take-over from Sampson County on July 1.
Wouldn’t they have at least done a more thorough walk-through of the facilities they could potentially take responsibility of before ever entering contract contention? One would think so. And, if they did, wouldn’t someone have noticed what they are now saying is the facility’s horrid condition? Again, one would think so.
What’s more, why didn’t the county, which was responsible for the facility’s upkeep until July, alert someone to the poor shape of the building or, better still, work to make some repairs of its own? After all, students were housed in the building last school year, and we can’t imagine that it began falling down the day after youngsters left.
None of that happened, and now, with just over a month before students are to occupy the building, Telamon officials are saying it can’t be used and that costs prohibit renovations occurring before the September opening and, quite frankly, might prevent the structure from being revamped in the next year, if ever.
Garland commissioners have a right to be furious, and Telamon officials ought to be not only apologetic but willing to rectify the situation in a manner acceptable to the people who live in the southern Sampson town, first among them parents.
Noel Martinez, consultant with the Raleigh-based Telamon, assured town officials earlier this week that they would have a great center, but those words seem somehow hard to swallow given the assessment of the facility, the cost of repairs and the lack of communication.
“From us, you’ll get communication and transparency,” he stressed to the board.
So far neither have happened. And before we believe those very nice assurances, we are going to have to see action behind those words, and quickly.