By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Three tractor-trailer rigs roared up Highway 4 on Tuesday morning, towing sections of a modular building that will become the Head Start/State Preschool classroom at Michelson Elementary School in Murphys.
When fully assembled, the 36-foot-by-40-foot building will be the first Head Start classroom for Murphys, and the 10th for Calaveras County.
Head Start, under the federal Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to give low-income children a leg up in preparing for their educational experiences.
The program serves children between the ages of 3 and 5 and offers them free medical and dental care, healthy meals and/or snacks and a variety of educational activities.
State Preschool is a state-funded program also intended to prepare children for school. There are numerous eligibility requirements for the program, such as income, children with single parents, kids with disabilities and other guidelines.
When classes start in mid-February, the Murphys Head Start center will operate five days a week for three and a half hours a day, said Chris Perez, Calaveras County's Head Start administrative assistant.
The center will be able to take 20 children.
The Human Resources Council administers Head Start in Calaveras County. In addition to the new Murphys Head Start/State Preschool near the corner of Highway 4 and Pennsylvania Gulch Road, HRC has four Head Start sites in Angels Camp and one each in Copperopolis, Jenny Lind, San Andreas, Valley Springs and West Point.
"We not only have 10 centers in the county, but we have home-based services as well," Perez said. "We go into homes and help the family with curriculum and activities that get their child ready for school."
Site Director Barbara Curran and associate teacher Jessi Ray will oversee the new Murphys class.
There is no cost to the children's families for the part-day program. For more information on enrollment or Head Start employment, call 772-3980.