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September 9, 2010

New wing takes flight at Roy-Hart

GASPORT — It’s been a long road, but the new addition to the Royalton-Hartland Elementary is open.

Officials from the Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, the Roy-Hart school district and community were on hand Thursday for the grand opening of the new 10-classroom wing. Known as the Royalton-Hartland Learning Center, the wing will service 55 students from the 13 school districts within the Orleans/Niagara BOCES, as well as some from Erie County.

BOCES Superintendent Clark Godshall said the new wing not only benefits Orleans/Niagara, but the Roy-Hart community, as well.

“It’s a win-win,” he said. “Not only will it bring services together efficiently, but you don’t have to transport your kids.”

The wing is the first half of Roy-Hart's $8.3 million capital project, approved by voters in January 2008. The second part, which is a series of upgrades and improvements made to the schools, is in the final stage of review by the state education department. The project comes with no additional cost to the taxpayer.

Roy-Hart Elementary is on Orchard Place in Gasport, and the wing is in the back, facing Emerson Place. The school services children with behavioral and emotional issues from Niagara Falls to Medina. Along with the 10 classrooms, the BOCES wing will offer physical and occupational therapy rooms, counselors, speech teachers and a literacy program.

But that doesn’t mean the wing will be separate from the school, said Paulette Hamilton, a special education coordinator and supervisor of the center.

“We are integrated,” Hamilton said. “We utilize the gym, attend assemblies.”

The BOCES behavioral program was located at West Street Elementary in the Niagara-Wheatfield School District. Thomas Klotzbach, BOCES Board of Education president, said the move is the result of great foresight by Roy-Hart and BOCES.

“The vision of the Roy-Hart and BOCES administrations allowed them to become partners and benefit the community,” Klotzbach said.

Klotzbach, who represents Lyndonville on the BOCES board, said he drove by the wing a number of times during construction. He noticed the number of workers during the ending stages of the work.

“It looked like ants moving in on the building with all of the workers,” Klotzbach said. “They did a great job.”

The wing shows what can happen when BOCES works with local school districts, said BOCES Board Vice President Rebecca Albright.

“It’s a great example of collaboration and finding cost-savings,” Albright said. “It’s a great outcome and it saves taxpayer money.”

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.

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