J.O.Y. School faces funding hardship - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

J.O.Y. School faces funding hardship

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CLEVELAND, TN. (WRCB)  --  For the 18 children enrolled in Cleveland's J.O.Y School, six weeks of their summer is filled with activities like swimming and horse back riding.

"We want them to retain as much of what they learned the previous school year as possible because it's very simple for any child to lose a lot of ground over the summer, especially this particular group of children," says Director Shawn Carman.  

The program caters to special needs children. Usually a summer school program like this could cost hundreds.

"It would be $600," says Becky Wright, Chairman of the Board of Directors.  

However, families are only asked to pay $90 if they can. The rest of the money is made up through donations from local churches, civic groups and individuals but the economy has been hard on everyone and the J.O.Y School is beginning to feel the effects.

"Our contributions have been dwindling over the years," says Wright.

"Unfortunately it's the reality of how things are right now," Carman says.

It's Ella's third year in the program, it's the first time she is brave enough to get on a horse.

"It's worth it. It's worth every penny of it," says her father, Brian Allmon.

Allmon says Ella wouldn't have any where to go if the school closes. Organizers say it's not to that point yet but they are worried about the years to come.

Channel 3 wanted to know if the summer school could apply for government funding through the school district's IEP program for special needs students.

"We are not a provider of educational programs for the school system," Wright explains.

However, for the kids in the program it's all the education they need. "We're very thankful, because its worth it," Allmon says.

Carmon says even if the school could apply for government funding, it's requirements and regulations would multiply drastically. They hope getting the word out about the program will help bring in funds.

If you'd like to donate, contact the First Presbyterian Church in Cleveland at 423-476-5584.

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