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March 3, 2010

Bartlett 'not optimal' for special-ed programs

Costly rehab would eliminate savings, director says

(Continued)

Other drawbacks are lack of handicap accessibility that would have to be addressed before the school could receive a license to operate from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the location of student restrooms only in the lowest of the school's three floors.

The expense of installing new handicap-accessible bathrooms and elevators in the Bartlett School would be prohibitive, Covino said.

If the special education programs were to be interested in seeking a new home, Covino said he would advocate the path that Hill View Montessori took.

"I like what the Montessori school did, looking at industrial space. An industrial space with playing fields nearby would be ideal," he said.

Meanwhile, DePolo said he is happy at St. James and believes the sense of continuity that has come with the long-term lease of the building has been good for his students.

As part of their art studies, students each year paint murals on the walls of the school. Each year's designs are added to those of previous students.

"It gives them a sense of belonging. When they walk through the building, they see their work beside that of students in previous years."

DePolo credited a "great art teacher," Neil Wilkins, for working with the students on the murals. Buchanan, the schools superintendent, has said Andover Superintendent Claudia Bach has expressed possible interest in renting the Bartlett School for overflow of some programs from her district.

Administrators from Andover were expected to visit recently to tour the building.

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