By Curt Finch

MOISD Superintendent

On May 11, 2015, the Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District Board of Education voted to improve the Education Center, a facility serving the most severely disabled K-12 students in Mecosta and Osceola counties.

One of the most important functions of the MOISD is to serve special needs students on our main campus located by the National Guard Armory building in Big Rapids. The Education Center students are bused in from all corners of our area to this specialized facility.

The Ed Center was initially built in 1979 and opened with a small population of severely mentally impaired, trainable mentally impaired and a room of pre-primary students. In 1981, an addition was added to provide more space for a growing population and additional impairments. In 1990, another two additions were added — a small multipurpose room and a wing on the south end of the building. In 1998, the fourth addition was added on for more student services — the North Annex. Because of overcrowding, the late 1990s saw a move of a “transition” program to downtown Big Rapids (on the same side as the movie theater); a program designed to connect students to everyday living skills. In 2004, the program was split into two transition groups and moved across the street into a remodeled building for students up to 26 years old. In 2009, one of the transition programs moved back to a remodeled North Annex of the Ed Center. In 2012, our early childhood special needs program moved out of the Ed Center and over to the newly-leased Eastwood Early Childhood Center operated by the MOISD.

The current Ed Center houses students from 5 to 26 years old with programs for moderately and severely cognitively impaired and two special resource rooms.

The new additions and remodeling this summer will upgrade and add new boilers, a new cafeteria and attach a new front office entrance for security purposes. Remodeled portions will widen some interior doors, remodel a special bathroom and add city water.

The goal is try to complete the project before the snow flies in December; any sooner will be a bonus. The dollars for this project were saved over a period of 10 years by trimming budgets, planning ahead and keeping promises to staff from times gone by. We are excited for these new additions and the more positive learning and safe environment it will create for our special needs students; look for an open house later this year!

Dr. Finch can be reached at cfinch@moisd.org and followed on Twitter @CFinchMOISD