Tri-County Schools to close while new 11-month school year plan created

  • The Tri-County Schools in Easthampton announced this week that it would close later this month while officials create a new 11-month school year plan. Here, Brandon Sokoloski, left, works in a Springfield garage with instructor Nester Torres on a car as part of an automotive program offered at the school. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

@mjtidwell781
Published: 6/1/2018 12:00:10 AM

EASTHAMPTON — Tri-County Schools in Easthampton plans to close its doors on June 25 to prepare a “new 11 month school year proposal” to submit to the state, according to a press release from the school’s parent agency.

Paul Rilla, the executive director of Northeast Center for Youth and Families, which is the parent agency for the private school, said in the press release Tuesday that both summer and regular school operations will be shut down in June and will remain closed until the 11-month proposal is approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“We anticipate reopening the school as soon as our new application for an 11 month program is approved by DESE,” Rilla stated.

According to the center’s website, Tri-County Schools began as a small special education school that grew to educate up to 115 students from kindergarten through grade 12 with educational and vocational programs that include auto repair, culinary and sustainable life learning programs.

Located at 203 East St., Tri-County Schools states that the majority of graduates pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests and that 70 percent of graduates go on to college.

The school serves out-of-district students with critical special education needs and is largely funded by sending tuition paid by public school districts. It is a state licensed and approved special education school.

The school’s parent agency was founded in 1972 to serve children and families in Massachusetts and northwest Connecticut “as they navigate the challenges of a child’s emotional and behavioral difficulties,” according to the center’s website.

In 2011, Northeast Center for Youth and Families was cited by state auditor Suzanne Bump for violations of state spending practices, including $1.2 million in misspent funds between 2005 to 2009.

Rilla declined to comment beyond the press release.

“At this time, we would like to thank the school districts that have supported the School over the years and look forward to working with them to help us develop the new program to best serve the children of Western, MA,” the press release stated. “We plan on providing Special Education Services again in the not too distant future.”

M.J. Tidwell can be reached at mjtidwell@gazettenet.com.


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