Funding changes could hurt Pre-K education - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Funding changes could hurt Pre-K education

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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -- If you're planning to enroll your child in Pre-K next year, the Quincy Public Schools may be forced to turn you away. That's because the funding for pre-school programs is up in the air.

Cuts are nothing new to administrators at the Early Childhood Center. Just a few years ago, 360 students were enrolled at the center. Now, there are only 140.

There are questions whether the program will exist at all come next year.

Parents say they would be devastated if the program were not available.

"Oh, she's become far more outgoing. She used to be extremely shy and people have commented since she started in this program how outgoing she is now," said Brooke Lohmeyer, a mother of a preschooler.

Lohmeyer says the social interaction her daughter Sophia has in preschool will give her an advantage when she starts kindergarten.

Lohmeyer says preschool has helped all three of her daughters and if the program weren't available, they would have looked for another.

"We'd probably even have put her in a private school to give her that head start," said Lohmeyer.

But teachers know not all parents have that option.

"I think a lot of them may not be able to pay for preschool and so that will affect them, most definitely, but I don't think there's going to be a lot of options out there and that's going to be really hard for a lot of families we serve," said Kelley Jennings, a teacher at Quincy Early Childhood Center.

Quincy Early Childhood says right now, there's no way to know if it will be able to offer preschool services next year.

"We have a lot of faith and a lot of hope, but we still want to make sure we provide services to our families and right now there's no guarantee," said Julie Schuckman, the Director of the Early Childhood Center.

If they can't provide services, teachers say some students will fall behind, whether that's not knowing their letters and numbers or simply not being used to the classroom environment.

"They think its fun and then I think that sets them up for the learning later when they go to kindergarten. Then they think that learning is supposed to be fun and they really want to learn," said Jennings.

The next step for QPS is to re-apply for state grants.

Administrators say if funding is reduced, teachers will be laid-off and student enrollment will be cut-- again.

Head Start will not be affected by state funding changes.

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