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The operators of a school for children with profound learning disabilities offered major contributors to the school's capital campaign a tour of its new digs in Amherst on Monday.

The nonprofit Summit Educational Resources also kicked off the public phase of its fund drive, hoping to raise an additional $900,000 toward the cost of completing the $7.5 million project.

Not much more than drywall and the bare rafters were evident inside the 72,000-square-foot school at 150 Stahl Road. But once completed in mid-June, the new building will, year-round, house some 450 pupils and staff, replacing two properties that the agency currently leases from the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District.

"The old facilities are not handicapped-accessible, while this new building will have year-round temperature control and modern classrooms," said Executive Director Stephen R. Anderson.

"More importantly, our new building will provide us with a permanent home to meet the increasing demand for educational services for students in our region who have significant educational and behavioral needs," Anderson added.

Summit annually serves more than 1,600 children from 42 public school districts in the eight counties of Western New York, including children with autism, speech delays, hearing impairment and mental retardation.

Julie Nurse of Williamsville is the mother of a 5-year-old autistic son who attends the school.

"My son is nonverbal. He can't communicate, but this school has made a difference for us because we didn't know what to do to help him," Nurse said. "They've had to turn down a ton of students because they didn't have room at the old school. Now they can accept a lot more and provide them with state-of-the art stuff for physical and occupational therapy."

Summit has received $5 million in financing from M&T Bank. It has received another $1.6 million from the bank's charitable foundation, the John R. Oishei Foundation, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, the Niagara Frontier Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation, the James H. Cummings Foundation and the Western New York Foundation.

Upcoming fund-raisers include a walk-a-thon at 11:30 a.m. April 30 in Delaware Park and dinner and a show May 10 in Shea's Performing Arts Center.


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