Eileen Wise completed her last day at Smart Start-Centre County on Friday, ushering a major change for the struggling nonprofit.
Smart Start’s board of directors decided to cut Wise’s executive director position Friday following a $50,000 state funding decrease that constituted 60 percent of the nonprofit’s operating budget.
“It’s very sad, and I think children and families are going to lose out,” Wise said about the organization that attempts to help transition early learners into schools.
Wise said the board’s final plan will come in the next few weeks, but she was unsure of Smart Start’s direction — or if it will fold entirely.
Smart Start board Chairwoman Melissa Clark did not return calls seeking comment Thursday and Friday.
“They’re still negotiating and trying to make the decision,” Wise said.
Parent representative Jill Teel said the main aspect the community will miss is the communication.
She said Smart Start is the link between all parties involved in the process of early childhood education.
“That will be a big loss,” she said. “They are a big factor in open communication.”
Teel is a Park Forest Elementary School parent who serves on Smart Start’s transition to kindergarten committee.
Wise said people are seeing a “new world” in nonprofits, and those that rely on the state are in a “particularly vulnerable situation.”
She said she thinks the organization might be able to overcome the deficit, but the loss of funding significantly will hurt the programs offered and the way the company is run.
As for Wise, she doesn’t have a job lined up, but she said she is hoping to find one that will let her combine her skills in a position that she can “pour her heart and soul into” like she did with Smart Start.
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan