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Urbana alternative school moves to Bellefontaine

Madison-Champaign Educational Service Center’s alternative school has moved to Bellefontaine after a rent-free agreement with Ohio Hi-Point to operate at its previous location in Urbana came to an end.

The school, which hosts 14 to 22 students at a time, was founded in Urbana in the 1990s to work with students in danger of being suspended or expelled.

The school moved to Bellefontaine in late June.

The new location is a modular at Mac-A-Cheek Learning Center, a school for students with behavioral and emotional issues. Madison-Champaign ESC owns Mac-A-Cheek, enabling the alternative school to move in rent-free.

Madison-Champaign ESC Superintendent Dan Kaffenbarger said the move wouldn’t cost the participating school districts any more in transportation because they already bus students to Mac-A-Cheek.

“It could even be saving (some money for) some of the districts,” Kaffenbarger said.

The old National Guard Armory, the alternative school’s previous home, is owned by the city of Urbana. Ohio Hi-Point, a career technical school, was renting the space from the city. Hi-Point was operating its adult education program in the armory building and had allowed the alternative school to operate in the building rent-free.

Kaffenbarger said when Hi-Point announced it would no longer have an adult education building, he said Clark State Community College at one point was in negotiation for the space, but could not come to an agreement.

Urbana City Schools Superintendent Charles Thiel said his district purchases six seats there per year, though the number of students who attend varies. He agreed the move would not add extra costs for the district.

“We’re already delivering students to Mac-A-Cheek,” Thiel said.

Thiel also said the move would open up the school to additional counties, including Logan County.

Though the move did not add any additional costs, Kaffenbarger said he had mixed emotions about the program leaving Urbana, where it was founded.

“On one hand, it’s disappointing,” Kaffenbarger said.

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