Keep On Our Way Learning Center open

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On Our Way Learning Center is a special education (4410) preschool program located in Far Rockaway, NY. We currently have 2 UPK integrated classes, 2 Early Intervention centerbased classes, 4 12:1:2 self-contained classes, and 3 8:1:2 self-contained classes servicing the entire Rockaway community. They also have an extensive evaluation site, and evaluate between 500-600 children a year, and their EI service coordinators oversee about 200 children's cases at any given time. They are the ONLY program of this kind in the entire Rockaway peninsula. Their student population is diverse- and they have serviced and continue to service hundreds, if not thousands of children from all local communities.
> They also employ around 85 people from within the local community- this includes, teachers, classroom assistants, therapists, service coordinators, administration, and clerical staff. The program has a very low turnover rate, as people are happy working here and put their heart and soul into each child, with most teachers and therapists working there at least 15+ years.
> Last Thursday, we were informed that due to lack of funding and overwhelming debt, the program is being forced to close as of June 30th. They have been having financial difficulty for several years and are currently grossly in debt. This is a result of the very low reimbursement rate given to us by the state. When they reached out to the state to request an increase in rate, they were told that they could apply but it would take three years to get approval for the increase. There are waivers that can be applied for to help with the financial situation, but again, time is needed in order to apply for it.
> Please realize that closing this program will mean that close to 100 children will be left with no school to attend this coming year. As mentioned above, there is NO other special education preschool program on the Rockaway Peninsula. The closest school  has already informed most parents that they do not have placement for their children in September. The emotional and physical hardship of putting two year olds and preschoolers on a bus for three hours a day to any of the other schools is unreasonable. It will also mean putting a tremendous number of people out of a job and the local schools and agencies will not be able to absorb all of our staff.

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