After 11 years in Freeburg, Lighthouse Learning Center will close its doors for the last time at 6 p.m. Friday.
Owner Mary Kay Prader said the 175-year-old building on South Alton Street had become “a money pit” in recent years.
Lighthouse has spent thousands on upkeep and maintenance. On top of that, the Freeburg location recently lost its Head Start funding from the state.
The program, according to Prader, decided that its grant money would have more effect in different parts of St. Clair County. The loss of support was not performance based. Instead, Head Start said it was based on the income of Freeburg families, which is higher than other areas served.
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“We are fighters, but I couldn’t fight any more for our sweet Freeburg programs,” Prader wrote in a post on Facebook. “Although closing this Friday, we still own the building and we are in part still part of the great community of Freeburg.”
Prader’s other locations in Waterloo, Columbia and Cahokia will remain open. Her first location opened 20 years ago in Columbia. The most recent location opened in 2015 on Jerome Lane in Cahokia. That location will continue to receive Head Start funding.
Closing the Freeburg center, Prader said, wasn’t an easy decision, but it couldn’t be avoided after the business did everything it could to stay open.
Prader stopped paying herself about a month ago to save money. Lighthouse had layoffs, then remaining staffers took pay cuts.
A letter went home to parents Monday telling them the day care center on South Alton Street in Freeburg would close Friday.
The day care offered to help parents find a different place for their children to go.
Lighthouse Learning Center serves about 450 children in two counties and four different cities in Southern Illinois. About 50 children were enrolled at the Freeburg center.
“The children have always been the number one reason we have done this for twenty years,” Prader wrote. “The short notice to families was not out of evil intent or trickery. We didn’t announce the closure of the center sooner because we tried so many ways to save it, but to no avail.”