LIMA – Great Day Academy and the Marimor School, each of which trains children with autism and severe developmental disorders, have joined forces to form the Great Day at Marimor School.
The school is the result of months of negotiations between the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities and the Allen County Educational Service Center (ESC), which will remain separate entities as they have the financial and educational responsibilities for their Big Day together in Marimor, 2550 Ada. split up street.
Talks began in March when the ESC was looking for a new location for its autism units, previously known as the Great Day Academy on Slabtown Road.
The academy lacked an on-site cafeteria after converting its dining room into a classroom to keep up with growing enrollment. The students crossed the parking lot for lunch and during the break, a challenge for students with mobility problems.
Enrollment at Marimor School had now shrunk to about a dozen students with the most intense medical and behavioral needs, as most children with developmental disabilities now attend school in their home school districts or other academies tailored to specific needs.
“Most children should be in public schools,” said Theresa Schnipke, superintendent of the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “Most children should be with their siblings.”
The agencies have been offering a joint preschool program since 2009.
The Big Day in Marimor, open to children entering kindergarten by the age of 22, will run in a similar way: the Board of Developmental Disabilities will take care of the setup, maintenance and ancillary costs such as behavioral support and case management, while being responsible for the ESC is for educational services. School districts that send children to Great Day at Marimor do not pay fees during the pilot year.
Students who previously attended the makeshift autism school now have access to larger classrooms equipped with disabled toilets and changing rooms. No need to walk through the parking lot for lunch or physical education class. And soon they will even have an inclusive playground right outside their classroom door.
The merger should save the Board of Developmental Disabilities about $ 1 million a year as the agency cut six teaching and administrative positions, several of which were retiring or hired by the ESC to continue teaching on Great Day. The $ 5.4 million in donation received by the Board of Developmental Disabilities will instead cover other expenses such as facility costs and operational needs.
The Marimor School was founded by parents of children with developmental disabilities who had few educational opportunities when taxpayers approved the first tax to fund the school in 1977.
But the Board of Developmental Disabilities has shifted its resources to support adult day care services at Marimor Industries, as well as other Medicaid waiv programs offered by private residential groups, employment agencies, and organizations that support people with disabilities. It also employs early intervention specialists who work with infants and young children with developmental delays.
“There was no exemption from medical care in 1977,” says Schnipke. What used to support a school with 100 children now supports adults who live in shared apartments at the same age as their parents, said Schnipke.
Teachers prepared their classrooms on Wednesday for Great Day in Marimor, a new partnership between the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities and the Allen County Educational Service Center.
Board of Directors of the DD, Bildungsservicezentrum unite schools for children with developmental disabilities
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