Long Run preschool in White Oak out of money

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Long Run Children's Learning Center, a preschool in White Oak, may close before the end of the school year because of a lack of money.

Tom Smith, executive director, said about $50,000 is needed to pay teachers and building expenses through the end of May.

Almost 70 children attend five half-day preschool classes at Long Run.

Mr. Smith said he is trying to get contributions from a local foundation or grant money from other sources to make up for the loss of about $500,000 in funding per year from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, which ended more than two years ago.

A meeting for parents is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday at Long Run, 1235 Long Run Road, to come up with fundraising ideas.

Long Run had a contract with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to provide early intervention services to about 100 special-needs children, Mr. Smith said. But the contract with the intermediate unit was not renewed, he said.

Prior to that, about 11 special-needs children were in each classroom at the center with about six children who did not have special needs. The intermediate unit also had its own early intervention classrooms for special-needs preschoolers.

However, officials at the intermediate unit believed those classes were not integrated enough with nondisabled children and changed the way early intervention services are delivered to special-needs children, Mr. Smith said.

The children were gradually moved to Head Start and private preschools with fewer special-needs children per class, and some services -- such as occupational and physical therapies -- are now being delivered to those children at home, he said.

Under the new system, he said, only about 8 to 10 percent of the children at Long Run have special needs and receive services from speech, occupational and physical therapists there as well as services from developmental consultants.

Geno Cristaldi of Elizabeth Township, whose daughter attends preschool at Long Run, said few preschools have a large outdoor playground like Long Run or an indoor gymnasium.

He and his wife, Christina, are happy with both the preschool program and the building, he said.

Chris Capozzoli of North Huntingdon said his daughter, 4, has attended Long Run Children's Learning Center since age 2. He said he and his wife, Melissa, support the staff.

"They really do a great job of getting the young people to learn and have fun at the same time," he said.

Both fathers said it will not be easy to find another preschool.

Mr. Capozzoli said a core group of parents is intent on keeping the school open.

education - neigh_east

Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com


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