Bridge program opens - Columbia-Greene Media: News

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Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014 2:00 am | Updated: 12:04 am, Tue Apr 8, 2014.

HUDSON — After months of struggles and setbacks, the Hudson-based alternative learning program known as the Bridge is up and running.

The Columbia-Greene Partnership Academy, housed at 364 Warren St., is a collaboration between the Hudson and Catskill school districts and the Berkshire-Union School District. There are currently 41 students from the three districts involved in alternative education and self-contained special education.

Questar III Superintendent Jim Baldwin, who hosted the event, said the program would provide specialized learning for students in an innovative and cost-effective way and credited school leaders for putting the program together.

“It takes courage to do something new and something different and for daring to be innovative and making that innovation come to fruition,” Baldwin said.

The program is currently only for 16 and 17-year-old students who have not yet reached the compulsory age and are at least four credits behind. A day program for special education students has also been approved at the site, which saves the districts the cost of sending students out of district by bus to the Berkshire Union Free District in Canaan.

“This is the culmination of what we’ve been waiting for,” said Hudson City School District Superintendent Maria Suttmeier. “The most beautiful day for us was when the students entered on Feb. 3 after going through so many ups and downs.”

Catskil School Superintendent Kathleen Farrell said she was also happy to finally have the facility operational.

“This has been a labor of love,” Farrell said. “I cant tell you how excited the three of us are to have this open and running and so successful. Our students and families have been impressed with the academic work and the support they’ve received and the opportunity this has provided for them to complete their high school education.”

Berkshire Union Free School District Superintendent Bruce Potter said it was a gratifying feeling to see the school open and credited the cooperation of educational and political leaders in bringing the project to fruition.  

“[This wouldn’t be possible] without the Legislature, the senate, the state education department and each school district, who were willing to invest in the future of these young people, that’s where all the credit needs to go,” Potter said. “It was a lot of hard work, but it was necessary work and we will be getting the results these kids deserve.”

“This an amazing realization of a dream by three superintendents,” said Barrett, “And an understanding of what you need to do in order to be sure that every child has the opportunity to be who they want to be, who they can be, and is empowered with nurturing, learning opportunity wherever we can create that to realize those goals.”

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