When the Thomas A. Wildey Center was built in 1973, there were as many as 300 students attending the school designed to teach and train children with developmental disabilities, but as school districts assimilated many of those children into their own programs, the number of students has dwindled to 50.
“We had this huge building here, but it wasn’t being utilized,” said Superintendent Sharon Woodrow. “We wanted to change and be more effective and offer more services to our clients.”
The Wildey Center has undergone a complete renovation with architect Robert Wallace offering his expert advice throughout all phases of the construction. Wallace has been involved in a number of other projects for the center.
According to Lisa Davis, director of community relations, no levy funds were used in the renovation.
"The renovation now gives us the opportunity to sell at least one of our four buildings," said Davis, "which downsizes our infrastructure."
During a tour of the facility, Woodrow explained that the center now offers Early Intervention, school age and adult services, administrative offices and community support services.
Many of the large multi-purpose rooms used in the past have become offices and smaller classrooms.
"Offices have been added to accommodate a public relations office, family services which lends support for families with children in the school and other offices to house many of the partnerships we have within the community," Woodrow said.
The center offers classrooms for assessment and evaluation, a respite program, conference room and an area for the Help Me Grow Program.
"We wanted to use as much as we could from the existing building," said Woodrow. "We didn't change the flooring because it was functional, but we hope to be able to eventually change it out."
The old building was lacking in storage space and much of the adaptive equipment was stored in the hallways, but they now have what Woodrow calls "equipment garages" to house all the adaptive equipment.
Bathrooms have also been updated and many of the classrooms in the school area now have much needed storage.
The building has a physical and occupational therapy department complete with swimming pool, basketball court and sensory room.
There is a home economics room where life skills are taught and a special activities room.
The newly renovated building officially opened Sept. 6.
During the open house, the Wildey Hand Chime Choir performed a number of selections under the direction of Carla Tobergte, a speech pathologist in the school age program.
"It is great to be here for this celebration. It has been a privilege and an honor to serve on the board of MRDD. You and your families have been so important to me. It makes what we do worthwhile," said Thomas Wildey, a board member and son of Thomas A. Wildey. He introduced his family members who were present for the dedication.
"Dad was instrumental in getting the property that the school sets on donated," said Wildey. "He was very faithful to the school. This was his passion."
The Thomas A. Wildey Center is located 2040 State Route 50, in Batavia. For more information about the Wildey Center, contact Lisa Davis, director of community relations (513) 732-4921 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.