Keuka Lake School is moving to North Avenue

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
A bird's eye view of the Keuka Lake School rendering.

Keuka Lake School, which opened its doors in the former Branchport Elementary School in 1985, is moving again — this time into a home it can call its own.

The school, which provides early intervention and specialized services for children aged birth to 5-years with developmental and intellectual disabilities was most recently located in five classrooms inside Penn Yan Elementary School. There, beginning in 2014, the Keuka Lake School continued providing both early intervention and integrated Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK),serving children with and without disabilities.

When classes begin in September, students will be in a brand new space as Keuka Lake School renovates the facility at 240 North Ave. in Penn Yan. “Earlier this year we were informed of the need to give up one of our classrooms at the school due to rising enrollment and programmatic needs,” Arc of Yates President & CEO Daniele Lyman explains. “We decided to look for a permanent location for our school which serves a critical need in the community. This is an opportunity for the school to grow and serve more children.”

Penn Yan School Superintendent Howard Dennis says the Keuka Lake School classrooms were “tight” in the elementary building, and The Arc wanted to provide more opportunities for Keuka Lake School students. “We wanted to make it work, but they wanted to expand,” he says.

Previously the Arc of Yates Administration building which also houses the Print Shop, the new Keuka Lake School campus will offer larger classrooms, more room for physical, occupational, and speech therapy, and a brand new playground with equipment accessible for children of all ability levels.

“Having a stand-alone facility for Keuka Lake School offers our students more space, more programs, and more opportunities to learn and grow,” says KLS Assistant Principal Dan Reynolds, adding, “The move is a tremendous opportunity for our program and for the students we support.”

Construction has already begun with plans to wrap up before the start of the school year on Sept. 7. The school will have its own gymnasium, playground, and library, as well as a secured entrance. A partnership with Finger Lakes Community Health Center will ensure access to a mobile dental unit for the students at the new location.

Sixty children from five counties and nine surrounding school districts attend Keuka Lake School, including 20 Penn Yan School District students who participate in the Universal Pre-Kindergarten program. The campus will also offer expanded daycare services to children ages 18 months to 5 years old.

“Having Keuka Lake School in our community is a true asset to Yates County, as well as our neighboring counties,” said Lyman. “The staff at Keuka Lake School excel in meeting the needs of children with developmental disabilities. Early intervention is the key to preparing these children for the integrated classrooms they will join when they enter Kindergarten in their home school districts.”

The building formerly housed Iron Age Shoes, and was originally built as a factory for Pennsylvania House furniture manufacturer in the 1970s. The Arc administrative offices will move into the space previously occupied by The Connection call center, and warehouse space will remain between those offices and the school and the space used by the Print Shop. The Arc’s building at the corner of North Avenue and Sheppard Street will not be affected.