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Campus School May Move Out Of University Facilities

Assoc. News Editor

Published: Thursday, November 21, 2013

Updated: Thursday, November 21, 2013 02:11

campus school

Alex Gaynor / Heights Editor

The Campus School is exploring a collaborative relationship with the Kennedy Day School at Franciscan Hospital for Children that could result in an affiliation of the two entities, according to a press release published by the Office of News and Public Affairs on Nov. 14.

Campus School Director Don Ricciato has signed a letter of intent that will explore affiliation possibilities. Kennedy Day School, like the Campus School, provides special education services to students, ages three to 21, with severe disabilities. The school currently hosts approximately 70 students, while the Campus School serves 38.

Ricciato informed his staff, parents of Campus School students, and Boston College students and volunteers of the recent development at a meeting this week.

“These discussions are in the early stages, so we do not have specific details to share at this time, but we wanted our staff and the parents of Campus School students to be aware that discussions are taking place that are focused on how best to serve the students at both schools,” Ricciato said in the press release. “A joint advisory committee has been formed to lead the process, and we will provide additional information as it becomes available.”
Both the Campus School and the Kennedy Day School have faced declining enrollment in recent years. As local school districts continue to develop special-needs programs for students, the two schools are now under-capacity.

“What Don had in mind is, take the best of Campus School—the students, staff, and BC volunteers—and meld it with the best of the Kennedy Day School, which is just two miles down the road,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn. “Everything would continue, just continue in better facilities.”
The Kennedy Day School underwent renovations in 2012 that resulted in a new, 20,000 square-foot building. The school’s facilities include a supplemental health room, sensory motor room, vocational skills area, therapy pool, and gymnasium.

If the merge were to occur, the Campus School students and staff would move to the Kennedy Day School facility in Brighton, two miles from BC’s main campus. BC students would still have the opportunity to volunteer.

In a letter to members of the BC community, Interim Provost Joseph Quinn invited Campus School families to tour the school’s new facilities and meet with staff members.

“In the meantime, we promise to keep our parents, staff and volunteers informed as the discussion progresses,” Quinn said in the letter.  
A petition was anonymously created two days ago on Change.org, titled “Supporters of Students with Special Needs: Don’t let BC close the Campus School.” The petition states, “Boston College has kept an earth shattering decision for 38 students and families, a secret in order to strain away from the public eye. Father Leahy is planning to move BC Campus School to Franciscan Hospital due to a ‘space shortage’ on campus … Father Leahy has not come out with a public statement, as he plans to shut down the BCCS on campus and move it to Franciscan Hospital, with the final decision being made within 90 days. Please sign this petition in efforts to establishment [sic] a word of mouth movement.”
At the time of print, 1,759 people had signed the electronic petition. A Facebook page, “Support for Boston College Campus School,” was created yesterday and asks viewers to share their experiences and their love for Campus School students.

Dunn said a time limit has not been set on the discussion of a collaboration. The Campus School Volunteers Marathon Team, a group of students who run the Boston Marathon in an effort to raise money for the Campus School, would also continue if the two schools were to merge, he said.

Chris Marino, co-president of the Campus School Volunteers of Boston College (CSVBC) and A&S ’14, spoke for the student volunteers as he expressed his support for the members of the Campus School during this development.

“The Campus School volunteers support our students, faculty, and staff to the fullest extent, and only have their best interests in mind as we learn more about this collaboration,” Marino said. “Moving forward, we hope to have an open dialogue regarding the future plans of the school.”
Dunn emphasized that any decisions made will be in the best interest of the Campus School students.

“For parents of special needs students, change is all the more difficult,” Dunn said. “We understand their concerns. But what Don Ricciato, Maureen Kenny [Dean of the Lynch School of Education], and Joe Quinn are asking is for parents to consider the benefits of combining the best of Campus School and the superior facilities and dedicated staff of the Kennedy Day School.”

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