Three Pre-K Programs Hang on Thread of Hope

Three Pre-K Programs Hang on Thread of Hope
By: Heartland News
GOREVILLE, Ill. - Some students and teachers in southern Illinois are learning a tough lesson this holiday season about economics.
The Southern Seven Pre-K programs in Goreville, Vienna and Jonesboro now hang on a thread of hope.  Hope that the state of Illinois will come up with the money it owes the agency.
The education of more than 100 children and dozens more jobs are at stake.
The kids in Southern Seven's classroom were all ears as their teacher shared a story with them Monday afternoon, but the clock is ticking for the kids and their teachers.
The state of Illinois owes the program more than $80,000.
Without that money the program will shutdown.
So for now Southern Seven is juggling things until the Christmas break in December.
"However that can only extend so far. So we're hoping that the state will come through on what they owe us. And actually what they owe the children and the parents," said Angie Messemer, the Early Childhood Development director. 
Parents rely daily on the care and education their children receive in Southern Seven's classrooms.
"I am fortunate he will be able to stay home with me. He'll have another year in Pre-K before he enters kindergarten. I do know there are other parents who aren't that fortunate. They use this as their daycare. And I really don't know what they will do," said Niki Cloud of Goreville.
And neither do the people who run Southern Seven's Pre-K program.
They aren't giving up on taking care of the kids.
"No we're not shutting down these classrooms. We're working internally and with our school districts to cover these classrooms, until we know an answer from the state," said Messemer.
The answer could mean the difference between a short Christmas break for the kids and their teachers or a long, unwanted one.
The director of Southern Seven Health Deparmtment tells Heartland News she isn't holding out much hope the state will pay them.
Illinois state legislators have already gone home for the holidays and won't return until the end of January.