New location for Fitch Academy approved
DARIEN — Fitch Academy, the town’s alternative high school, has found its new home.
On Tuesday, the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a new location of 6 Thorndale Circle. The program will cost $419,757 for the 2018-19 school year, according to the Board of Education’s budget.
The location change caused some doubts the program would not be in place for fall, but Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg said it may be a close call.
“Hopefully on time,” Ginsberg said. “If not, very close to being on time.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission prioritized finalizing the new location so the program could be ready by the beginning of the school year.
“We went as fast as feasibly and legally possible,” said John Sini, commission chairman.
The group still needs approval from the library to use its parking lot, which is where the students would be dropped off.
The program began at Darien Library and was designed for students struggling with regularly attending classes at Darien High School. This past school year, it was held at the library and had 12 students, ranging from freshmen to seniors. Due to there being students on the wait list, the number is expected to grow to 25 this year. There will also now be four full-time staff members.
In December, the Board of Education unanimously voted to take the pilot status off of the Fitch Academy and make it a regular program in Darien. In the future, it is possible the program will be opened up to students outside of Darien.
Mike Lynch, the district’s director of facilities, said the program will follow Darien High’s calendar and there will be no back-to-school activities on the site. The proximity to the library and local delis should make the new location better for the students and staff, he said.
There are some factors that may come into play in determining whether or not the new location is permanent. If there is a change in enrollment or the new program is wildly successful, a new location may be needed, Sini said.
For now, members of the Planning and Zoning Commission expressed happiness that Fitch Academy has a home.
“It’s for the foreseeable future,” Sini said. “I don’t think they have any plans of moving for the next two or three years.”