After nearly 50 years at the same Verona location, officials at The Children’s Institute have announced the high school and a new adult school will be moving to Livingston beginning next week.
TCI spokeswoman Ann Dassing said the school was outgrowing the cramped Verona campus spaces at 1 Sunset Ave. and needed to resolve the situation.
The special needs school runs programs for students 3 to 21 years old that helps them overcome learning, language or social and emotional challenges to reach their full potential as adults.
Four years ago, TCI sought to expand the school. Hearings before the township zoning board, however, revealed resistance from neighbors, Dassing said, and the zoning board denied the school’s bid.
The school took the case to the state Supreme Court and was also denied, Dassing said.
TCI has been searching for an alternative site ever since, deciding in late May to move into the Regent Business Park located just off Route 10 West in Livingston, close to the East Hanover border.
The building, located at 6 Regent St., is currently undergoing renovations that Dassing says will be completed sometime next week.
The building is currently a commercial office building, Dassing said, and the renovations have included creating classrooms, a cafetorium—half cafeteria, half auditorium, creating a patio, an art room and a computer lab.
In addition to the high school, the new TCI Livingston campus will feature a new 21+ program at the same site, Dassing said.
“The 21+ program,” she said, “will be a program of TCI, but will be called the center for independence.”
Dassing explained the new program allows more than 100 adults to enroll in programs with “varying degrees of support.”
She said the program is targeted for adults who don’t work at all and adults who are functioning and maybe have a part- or full-time job.
“The program will focus on adults who need extra support at night,” she said.
She called the new program an exciting wave of the future.
“There aren’t too many programs for adults with autistic issues,” Dassing said.
She noted New Jersey has what she called “a tsunami effect,” explaining the high incidence of autism.
These children, she said, are going to need a place to go, they need support.
Dassing explained TCI has already planned specialty teacher schedules for the two campuses.
Some staff, including art and music teachers, will split their time between the two campuses, spending 2½ days in Verona and 2½ days in Livingston
In addition, TCI has hired additional full-time teachers to staff the Livingston campus.