Quincy school saved from cuts by state grant

Quincy school saved from cuts by state grant

As of Wednesday, the Early Childhood and Family Center in Quincy won't have to lay off any of its educators or close its doors.

Keri Bergman has been an educator at the Early Childhood and Family Center for a number of years.

Because the center is a public school, Bergman fears every year that the school won't receive enough state funding to keep her employed.

"You learn to deal with it and you take it year by year, and you pray for these kids that the funding comes back every year," Bergman said.

But thanks to a grant awarded to the school by the Illinois State Board of Education that won't happen this year.

"We've got word, we are receiving it for next year at the same amount of funding we had for this year. That's about $580,000 dollars," Julie Schuckman said.

Schuckman is the Director of the Early Childhood and Family Center.

"It's the only way we can keep going. Since 2009, we've lost about a 170 slots for children, so we're serving a lot less children and they've cut the grant about in half through what it use to be," Schuckman said. "So every year, we wait to see, to make sure we have the money to be able to keep our doors open."

She said every year, the threat of laying off teachers like Bergman can be stressful.

"I think it's really scary for the community and our families because they don't know what services are going to be out there for their children," Schuckman said. "And we want to make sure we can provide as much as we can, to have all our kids ready to learn and ready for kindergarten."

Currently, Early Childhood has 520 students and 85 staff members, many of whom teach Early Childhood Special Education, Head-start and Pre-kindergarten classes.

Schuckman said this year's grant will prevent the school from being forced to make any cuts to those programs.

"No more cuts as there were in the past, but we will maintain what we have now," Schuckman said. "But unfortunately, we won't get to add anything back that's been cut before."

And for Bergman, the grant led to the best news of all.

"I mean I'm happy, I have a job but I'm more. I'm happier for these guys, because they're guaranteed," Bergman said. "The next group coming in is guaranteed a full year with us and they're guaranteed more education and more preparedness for kindergarten."

The Early Childhood and Family Center will receive the funds after June 1.

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