LISBON - The roughly 60 remaining clients at the sheltered workshop in Calcutta will not be moving to the central location in Lisbon until at least the end of the 2014-15 school year, Superintendent Bill Devon said Tuesday.
The Columbiana County Board of Development Disabilities (BDD) announced it has decided to delay transitioning remaining clients' buses until the closing of the Calcutta facility, known as EDI South, at the end of the school year.
Fewer than 20 EDI South clients have already moved to the central facility, and the original plan was to have the remaining three bus routes transitioned on a staggered basis, with the first in August, second in January and final route changed in May, Devon said.
The closure has not been met well by clients, their families and even some staff, who are concerned about the effect the adjustment will have on their lives.
"We are going to take our time and try to be a lot more caring to what the families may need. We wanted to do a lot more TLC before we moved them," Devon said of the delay.
The board also originally planned to have the EDI South facility closed by Aug. 25, citing lack of attendance and new unfunded state and federal mandates as a reason.
In June, Devon said the average daily attendance was 185 between the three facilities the sheltered workshops serve. Two are located in Lisbon - the central workshop and adult senior center - and the EDI South workshop was utilized by only 66 people.
He also said at that time the closure would mean about $400,000 a year in taxpayer savings. In a press release issued on Tuesday the board said that savings could be put toward helping support client services and funding the state's Employment First mandate that requires the board to find community jobs for a portion of its clients each year.
Devon was quoted in the release saying, "We held two focus groups to gain input of parents, caregivers and community members, and there was a clear desire for additional communication on a case-by-case basis regarding how the transition will be handled for their loved one."
When contacted by phone, he said the facilities will continue to operate as usual until the final closing date, which has not been determined at this point.
"We are trying to work out other options for people that don't want to go," he said. "Most people I've talked to are happy."
Over the next 10 months he and others will meet personally with clients to help them with the transition, answering their questions and easing their concerns, according to the release.
The release also stated the board is in the process of developing a comprehensive plan for the client-centered transition program that will answer many questions about the consolidation, and more detailed updates will be available soon. The plan will cover the new busing schedule, level of staffing available at the central location, and what vocational opportunities and activities will be available to clients.
"As we move forward with this transition, we want to ensure that both the clients and their families are as comfortable as possible. We are thankful for the feedback we received, and will continue to do everything possible to make this transition successful for the individuals we serve," Devon said.
More information about the BDD is available at www.ccbdd.net.