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EdAdvance turns old Plymouth school building into academy
September 6th, 2019
This story was originally published by the Republican American, Friday, September 6, 2019 and can be found here.
PLYMOUTH – The new EdAdvance Partnership Learning Academy has injected new life into the once abandoned halls of Main Street School.
Since the $400,000 sale of the vacant building and parking lot at 77 Main St. closed in June, construction crews have been busy renovating the building and cleaning up the outside, making it ready to reopen as a school for elementary children with social, emotional and behavioral needs.
EdAdvance has offices in Litchfield, Danbury and Torrington. It provides services such as technology, adult education and special education for 32 communities and 29 school districts.
EdAdvance CEO Jeffery Kitching hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, giving tours of the facility to members of the EdAdvance board, Plymouth Board of Education, town officials and representatives from Thomaston Savings Bank.
“At the Partnership Learning Academy, we truly see this program as a partnership with the districts we serve,” Kitching said. “We are intentionally designed to be different. We are a model of how things should go and how we should approach issues of regionalizing.”
The school will focus on providing behavioral, social and emotional learning needs for 20 to 25 students in preschool through fifth grade, as well as additional services for elementary students with autism from Plymouth, Bristol and Plainville. Though the school doesn’t have any students enrolled yet, Kitching said he expects the building to be ready to start accepting students by the beginning of October.
He said so far 10 employees have been hired, including two teachers, a psychologist, a social worker, aides and therapists.
“The partnership with districts will be a critical component to providing social, emotional and academic support to children to reintegrate them into their school systems,” said Principal Scott Rossignol, who previously worked as director of special education for Region 13, which serves students from Durham and Middlefield.
The Plymouth school building sits on 7 acres of land and is valued at $1,758,300, according to the assessor’s database. The building housed the local Board of Education offices until they were moved to Terryville High School in August 2017.
EdAdvance renovated the interior of the 18,854-square-foot building with vibrant lime-green, blue and gray hues on the walls, new wood-vinyl flooring and desks ready for students to occupy. The building also has a new roof, HVAC system and plumbing.
Kitching said the second level of the building is still being worked on and could be used as office space or for adult education classrooms in the future. The exterior renovations are being funded with assistance from a $50,000 economic development town grant. The repaving of the driveway, sidewalks and beautification still needs to be done.
Though there will be no taxes collected on the property, the town will retain ownership of the athletic fields and playground there, and will be able to use EdAdvance’s parking lot on nights and weekends. The Board of Education budget also will see a savings from an agreement made with EdAdvance, which will give credits to Plymouth special-education students outplaced to EdAdvance. The agreement is expected to generate $30,000 to $100,000 a year in savings on tuition and transportation.
“This school will be an asset for our community,” Plymouth Mayor David V. Merchant said. “It’s not just good for Plymouth, but for Bristol and Plainville as well.
“Thank you for everything you’re going to do for our town,” he told EdAdvance officials.