|11-18-10 Proposed Somerset County school for special ed students would include convenience store|
Star Ledger - At a convenience store inside the proposed school, students will learn how to deal with real-life customers and get hands-on training in the convenience store business. “There aren’t a lot of options for these kids when they graduate. This is something they need...”
Nj.com - Proposed Somerset County school for special ed students would include a convenience store
Published: Thursday, November 18, 2010, 6:30 AM
SOMERSET COUNTY — Reading, writing and ringing up 32-ounce fountain drinks could be part of the curriculum at a proposed Somerset County school for special education students.
At a convenience store inside the proposed school, students will learn how to deal with real-life customers and get hands-on training in the convenience store business.
“There aren’t a lot of options for these kids when they graduate. This is something they need,” said Hal Dunsavage, superintendent of the county’s Educational Services Commission. “Once they graduate, they’ll fall through the cracks of society and struggle to find employment.”
Officials with the Educational Services Commission hope the new vocational school will result in jobs for students who struggle to do well academically.
The plan was unveiled last week to the Somerset County freeholders, who are being asked to finance the $10 million project to lock in low interest rates. Educational Services officials said the money would be repaid through tuition payments.
The in-school convenience store is one of the defining features of a new two-story building planned for the proposed school on the campus of the Somerset Academy in Bridgewater. Planned courses would cover subjects such as landscaping, shipping and receiving duties and forklift operation.
The construction and opening of the new school depends on how soon funding can be found, Dunsavage said.
The school’s student body would be limited to those who function below their academic levels.
County Vocational and Technical Superintendent Michael Maddaluna told the freeholders that his high school cannot serve those students with its existing facility and current admission standards.
Local school districts normally pay other schools, many of them private institutions, to teach the special education students. The tuition rate offered by the proposed school would be substantially lower than those at many private ones, Dunsavage said.
The school would initially have 72 students, but the county educational services commission has already identified 118 students in Somerset County who would qualify.
With enrollment expected to double over the next five years, the project would pay for itself through tuition fees charged to local districts, Dunsavage said.
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