A former hospital turned apartment building will have a new use later this summer: a school. West Buffalo Charter School (WBCS) has finally found a school site in the former Lafayette Hospital at 113 Lafayette Avenue, corner of Barton Street. WBCS is expecting to welcome its first students in the fall.
“We are so excited to have a building and begin preparing for our opening in August,” says Andrea Todoro, School Leader.
WBCS is leasing the entire building from Ellicott Development Group with long-term plans to purchase it from the developer. Ellicott Development purchased the then-vacant property in 1998 and later converted the structure into 41 market-rate apartments. This is Ellicott Development’s second recent charter school project. Last year the company renovated the former St. Vincent’s orphanage on Ellicott Street for the Health Sciences Charter School.
WBCS has an approved charter for 270 students that will open with 162 students in grades K-2. It will grow one grade level each year to K-4, reaching a total enrollment in year three of 270 students according to Todoro. Each floor of the five-story building will house a different grade level. Minimal exterior changes are planned for now, but an enclosed play area will be constructed. Work to convert the building from residential to educational use is expected to be underway soon.
The school’s founders– Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center and D’Youville College– have created a local school with a focus on language and literacy that will be connected to and meet the needs of the West Buffalo community. It will be unique to the city and is expected to benefit its new neighborhood which boasts a large refugee population where English is a second language.
According to Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center President and CEO Joseph Cozzo, the school evolved from a literacy intervention curriculum designed by Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center called “Language to Literacy.” The school’s partner, D’Youville College, will provide to the classroom staff with the latest in teaching technology and assessment to ensure that WBCS provides its graduates with the platform skills necessary for them to become highly successful lifelong learners. Each classroom will have a teacher, assistant, and speech pathologist working together.
WBCS has searched for two years for a suitable location. The school had been working with Savarino Cos. to purchase and renovate the former School 36 on Days Park. That site was recently purchased by Elmwood Village Charter School after a messy sales process and court fight.
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