The fate of Smart Start-Centre County is up in the air, but downsizing or dissolving are the options that are in the charity’s immediate future, Executive Director Eileen Wise said.
Smart Start, which is designed to help children and parents with the transition to early childhood education, found out in July that it lost 60 percent of its operating budget after the $50,000 Learn Team Grants were cut by the state.
And that “fatal blow” is too much for the independent organization to take and remain whole, she said.
“We just can’t overcome it,” Wise said. A decision is scheduled to come from the board of directors Friday that could result in the loss of the executive director position and some programs or dissolve the organization altogether.
Wise gave a presentation to local school leaders Wednesday during a principal’s meeting at College Heights Elementary School. The informational speech was designed to let school officials know the situation and explain Smart Start’s mission, which is bridging the gaps among parents, teachers and children, helping ease the transition to school.
Some programs let the incoming students meet the teachers and also educate parents on what they need to know leading up to their child’s first day of school.
She said she hopes that if Smart Start is unable to continue programs, the schools themselves would be able to pick up some of the slack, such as handing out guides to all incoming kindergarteners.
Wise said those and similar programs help the children transition to school and improves their chances to graduate down the line and find jobs.
The charity has long-term goals for the children and gives them shirts that this year will say “Class of 2025,” emphasizing the year they will graduate from high school.
“If we invest in young children, it’s not only going to help them and their families — it’s going to help the whole community,” she said referring to the students graduating and eventually paying taxes in the borough.
If the charity is forced to fold, Wise said she thinks the community will miss the work they have done and she hopes the young children will get the help they need.
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan