ATHENS — The Athens Area School District is taking over some classrooms from the Blast Intermediate Unit 17.

The district is taking over two autistic support rooms and one transition room, according to Superintendent Craig Stage.

“When we were looking at the number of kids in there, the flexibility and just trying to make sure that our students get the absolute best, we felt like it would be in our best interest to take over control of those classrooms where we could provide a little bit more support, a little bit different support, have some flexibility with staffing and meet the needs of these students — and also maybe meet the needs of some other students within our schools,” Stage said.

Stage praised Erick Cummings, who is the district’s director of special services, and his staff for the work they put in to make the switch happen.

“Mr. Cummings and his entire staff have worked diligently to make this happen. We talked about making sure that we are able to provide robust and flexible support for all of our students ... this will allow us to do that,” Stage said at a recent school board meeting.

The district is not only taking over the classrooms, but also the teachers that were there, according to Stage.

“We took over the teachers too, so we didn’t just say ‘see you later,’ those teachers became Athens teachers and now they are going to have the supervision,” Stage said.

Stage also noted that the district could potentially bring in some money by allowing other school districts to contract with them to use those classrooms.

“We might be able to expand it and allow more kids to have access to some of these classrooms in the future,” Stage said. “It also become an opportunity for us in the future when other districts need a slot for a student in one of those rooms, it could be a revenue stream for us because we would bill the other schools.”

The former IU run classrooms are located at the Beacon Light in Ulster, Lynch-Bustin Elementary School and SRU Elementary School.

Pat McDonald can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 228 or Follow Managing Editor Pat McDonald on Twitter @PatMcDonaldMT.

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