Suspension time for Lancaster pupils won't be vacation time anymore once a joint project between the Town Board and the Lancaster Central School district puts to good use an underused part of the Youth Bureau.
Located in the rear of the Oxford Avenue facility is a roofed-in patio that officials initially thought would be used as a space to hold outdoor, summertime activities, said Supervisor Robert H. Giza. But, for the most part, the space has gone empty.
"(The bureau) never really used it, and then it was used by kids after the bureau was closed," he said. "So we decided to enclose it and use it for kids with home suspensions."
Under the plan, the school district will provide teachers, books and lunches, while the town supplies the space and the room, said Councilwoman Georgette F. Pelletterie, who also is the School Board president.
Construction will cost about $100,000, the bond amount adopted by the Town Board at Monday's meeting.
The way the program works, suspended pupils will be bused to their regular home schools in the morning. A district bus will make rounds to pick them up and deliver them to the Youth Bureau, which is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. About 10 students will be tutored at the facility.
Most of the suspensions occur at Aurora Middle School and the high school, Pelletterie said.
Because school districts are required to provide two hours of education anyway, it may as well be done through the cooperative program, supporters say.
"We spend $15,000 annually for home instruction for kids who are suspended. We don't have a program. We just hire substitute teachers to go into homes and offer instruction," said Superintendent Joseph L. Girardi.
"We're doing this instead of sending teachers to individual houses for two hours a day. This way kids will be in a school setting being educated," Pelletterie said. "And we can get state aid this way."
According to Girardi, the district will pay for the personnel, equipment and lunches through state aid.
Officials expect the program to be operating by fall.