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March 24, 2010

Springbrook expansion program approved

By Denise Richardson

Staff Writer

A proposed school for autistic children will create 112 jobs, fuel the local economy and provide instruction and care for pupils sent to other states for services.

Springbrook's $20 million Coming Home expansion project has received final approval from the state, Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, and Patricia Kennedy, chief executive officer of Springbrook, said Tuesday. The construction and renovations are to begin in June and take about 20 months, officials said.

``The Coming Home expansion puts people first, by creating the capacity to bring children, forced out of state, back home _ this will mean a great deal to the children and their families alike,'' Seward said in a prepared statement. ``Springbrook is already Otsego County's fifth largest employer, and the Coming Home expansion will generate an additional $5 million annually.''

The state Education Department and Office of Children and Family Services will pay $14.7 million of the project, Springbrook officials said in a project summary. Springbrook is raising $5 million, officials said, and thanks to donors and a $2.5 million matching grant from Buffalo Sabres owner and Paychex founder B. Thomas Golisano, less than $500,000 remains to be gained in the fund-raising effort.

To support the project, Completing the Puzzle _ A Gala for Springbrook will be at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for the dinner and dancing event cost $200.

Springbrook is a not-for-profit, state-licensed agency that serves 650 individuals and families affected by developmental disabilities.

The School at Springbrook is a residential- and day-school serving 76 students aged 5 to 21, a media release said. Kennedy said the staff has 850 employees.

Plans for the autism school and expansion began in 2006 when the state sought proposals to meet needs for a residential school for children with developmental disabilities, especially autism, the release said.

To meet needs of the students, officials said, extensive modification and additions to facilities will be made at the Springbrook campus off of state Route 28 in the town of Milford near Oneonta.

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