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BOCES programs for area students merge to save money

— Bolton Central School has joined with Warrensburg and Fort Ann school districts to create an alternative academic program to replace the BOCES Alternative High School that closed last year.

The new BOCES program is located at the Fort Ann Central school.

After the closing of the former program that was housed at the Southern Adirondack Education Center on Dix Avenue in Hudson Falls, it was determined that there was still a need for this type of program for a segment of high school students.

The three school districts developed guidelines for the shared alternative academic program for students in grades 9 and 10. The districts will share staff members and the program cost. The savings of the merge will cost the district about half of what it would have been to send students to the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES.

The districts will also continue to receive BOCES aid because the program is coordinated through BOCES.

According to a press release by the Bolton Central School District, other neighboring high schools have also expressed an interest to be involved in the program at some point.

There are currently seven students enrolled from the Bolton school, but administrators hope to fill the remaining five openings bringing the total enrollment to the maximum of 12.

Alternative program students leave their classroom for science lab, gym, and electives to attend.

“We are fortunate to live in a region where we are surrounded by competent and collaborative neighboring school districts whose students have similar profiles and needs,” said Bolton Central School Superintendent Ray Ciccarelli. “The Alternative program is but one example of our potential to share efforts and further support our students.”

Ms. Sondra Smith has been hired as a counselor to oversee the program. Previously, Smith was the counselor for the Best Program at WSWHE BOCES last year. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and regular and special education in grades 1-9 from Nazareth College. In addition, she holds a master’s degree in school counseling from Russell Sage College.

Smith said students are picked from their home schools to attend this program.

“It’s for students who need extra support or need to get caught up on their credits. Many are on track for a Regents diploma, but are more successful in a smaller, more relaxed classroom setting. Students may opt to return to their home school once they have caught up on their studies,” Smith said

Brooke Rafferty, a ninth grader from Warrensburg said, “It’s a great opportunity to get caught up, thanks to the one-on-one instruction.”

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