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Long IslandSuffolk

Lindenhurst starts academy for high school students who need social, emotional support

The Lindenhurst school district has introduced a new program for students who need more support at school.

The Lindenhurst Academy, which will open this month with 11 students, is geared toward high school students in need of additional social and emotional support, district spokeswoman Alison DeMaria said.

Nancy Scaccia, an assistant principal at the high school who is overseeing the academy, said the program will be "an extension of the high school." Speaking before the board of education last week, Scaccia said the academy will give students the opportunity to "thrive in an accepting, nontraditional academic setting that is the least restrictive environment."

Scaccia said the district based the program on a similar one started last year in the Three Village school district.

The academy will have eight teachers, she said, with social workers and psychologists also available. Staffing will come from the high school, as well as some individuals who had been laid off by the district. Students will be able to participate in all high school functions, clubs and sports.

"They are definitely going to feel more a part of the community and feel less isolation than they normally would," Scaccia said. "We're really trying to establish a safe haven for these kids. This is going to be a place for them to grow and succeed."

The district expects to enroll a maximum of 25 to 30 students and also expects to save money in the long run. Sending a student to BOCES programs costs the district $62,000 per year. The program's start-up costs were $53,207, which were covered through a federal special education grant.

The budget for the academy is $746,000, said Superintendent Daniel Giordano. The district stands to break even compared with BOCES, and could see cost savings as more students enroll.

The program, which will be housed in the district's McKenna administration building, will include individual and small group academic instruction, as well as supplemental special education services.

There will be resource room support, individual and group counseling as well as optional family counseling in the evenings. The family counseling will be provided for free, courtesy of Clair McKeon, Babylon Town's executive director of youth and disabled services.

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