The Brandywine Center for Autism, which provides applied behavioral analysis therapy services to children, has opened in the former St. Helena’s Parish preschool building. The parish closed its preschool in 2013.
The center, which opened in mid-November, provides children “with the skills they need to realize their full potential” by identifying individual learning styles, according to its website. BCA also offers consultative and direct services in the home. It will have access to the school gymnasium.
Chris Hullinger, St. Helena’s business manager, said the center signed a lease in August and has exclusive use of the former preschool building, which is directly behind the convent. The parish and BCA will share the gymnasium.
“We’ve been out there actively working to rent this building. We’ve had a lot of interest,” Hullinger said.
The former St. Helena’s School remains vacant. It most recently housed Pope John Paul II School, which opened in 2008 when St. Helena’s and Holy Rosary merged their schools. Pope John Paul II closed in 2011.
Meanwhile, Holy Rosary has a new tenant for its school building. Kingswood Academy, an alternative school for students who have had discipline problems or been expelled from their regular public schools, moved in over the summer and will be using the top floor. Its former location was on Market Street in Wilmington, said Yvonne Barnett, the program director.
“We needed more room, and this is more like a school atmosphere,” she said.
The school never has more than 100 students, and there are three staff members in each classroom. All of the students take buses. Classes begin at 7:30 a.m., and the students are picked up at 2 p.m. A state trooper is on-site every day.
Kingswood is part of a consortium consisting of the six public school districts in New Castle County – Appoquinimink, Brandywine, Christina, Colonial, Red Clay and Vo-Tech. The goal, Barnett said, is to have its students return to their regular schools.
“We believe in getting students back on track so they can be productive citizens,” she said. “We try to increase their attendance, make sure they’re on target as far as their academics.”
Holy Rosary previously served as the original home for Reach Academy, an all-girls charter school that relocated last year to New Castle.