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March 3, 2010

Bartlett 'not optimal' for special-ed programs

Costly rehab would eliminate savings, director says

(Continued)

But because they don't own the building, they have not had to shoulder the cost of building upgrades, such as a new roof installed about a year ago, DePolo said, and paid for by the church.

Any savings realized by seeking a new home for the program would be at least two years away, Covino said.

The city recently extended its lease of the St. James School for another two years, through the end of the school year in 2012.

But it is the physical attributes, or lack of them, in the century-old Bartlett School that are the biggest drawback, DePolo and Covino said.

The same things that caused the Hill View Montessori School to seek a new home — lack of a cafeteria, gym or library and inadequate outdoor space — would force the elimination of some of the most worthwhile services offered by the two programs.

The school cafeteria is used every day by both programs.

The Alternative School uses it as part of a culinary arts education program, preparing students for jobs in the food service industry.

Students prepare the lunch every day for their classmates and some staff. DePolo said he buys the $3 lunch every day.

Covino said TEACH students use the cafeteria, too. Some are preparing for jobs while others are learning how they might prepare meals when living on their own.

The gymnasium and outdoor athletic fields — enclosed by a chainlink fence — are vital to the success of the Alternative School, Covino said.

Students in that program especially need physical activity to help them focus during more sedentary lessons.

DePolo said the size of the St. James School allowed the Alternative School to create a woodshop complete with a venting system and a large science lab, both of which would be difficult if not impossible to recreate in the Bartlett School.

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