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Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

Berkshire UFSD to Expand Day Program, Pursue Alternative Learning Program

With Governor Cuomo signing a bill allowing the creation of an alternative learning program known as The Bridge into law on Tuesday, the Berkshire Union Free School District will look to expand its educational services to local community schools off of its Canaan campus beginning in January 2014. Given the late approval, Berkshire decided that it was most appropriate to begin students in the location they were already being educated. The new program will be located at 364 Warren Street in Hudson.

Warren Street property

Originally planned, the program was to house two distinct programs: a special education day program; and an alternative learning program for 45 general education students from both Catskill and Hudson.

“By locating this program away from our Canaan campus we can now expand day program educational services to female as well as male students,” said Berkshire superintendent Bruce Potter. “This will fulfill a need presented by tri-county school superintendents last December.” Both Catskill and Hudson have identified female day program students, currently ineligible for the existing Berkshire program.

Potter added, “Although I am disappointed there is a delay in providing alternative programming for the general education students from our partnering districts, we look forward to implementing that in the future.”

Timothy Giacchetta, the president of the BUFSD Board of Education, said he appreciates the cooperation the school has received from the governor and the state education department. “They are sending a clear signal that they support our efforts to provide quality, specialized educational programming at-risk children need and deserve,” said Giacchetta. “Our goal is to prepare these students to graduate from high school and become contributing, successful members of society.”

The Galvan Foundation, which owns the property being readied for the new program, is also supporting Berkshire’s mission. “Galvan Foundation is committed to helping improve educational outcomes through grant making and restoration of historic properties,” said Galvan Foundation executive director Daniel Kent. “We are working to further this commitment by renovating 364 Warren Street to create a space for The Bridge program.”

Berkshire will continue to pursue the original intent of the Columbia-Greene Partnership Academy, which would include a second educational program for alternative learning students. The Academy was formed earlier this year between Hudson City School District, Catskill Central School District, and Berkshire Union Free School District. Late last month the three districts learned that the way the law was written it would require a voter referendum from the sending districts, Hudson and Berkshire school district attorneys have argued that interpretation.

Berkshire Union Free School District is located on Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth’s Canaan Campus. Berkshire UFSD’s mission is “to provide a diversified and quality educational program, which will prepare each student to graduate from high school and return to his community as a contributing and successful member of society.”

Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth’s mission is to “strengthen children and families so they can live safely, independently, and productively within their home communities.” Berkshire Farm Center was founded in 1886.

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