Learning center approved by town

By Greg Elias
Observer staff

An educational center for children with learning disabilities easily won approval last week from the Williston Development Review Board.

The board voted unanimously to approve a conditional-use permit for the Augmentative Learning and Movement Center. It will be located in an existing building at the intersection of James Brown and Wentworth drives, which are off Vermont 2A north of Taft Corners.

The board expressed few reservations about the facility during its Nov. 28 meeting.

“It sounds like a great project,” said board member Cathy O’Brien, noting the recent media focus on autism, which will be one of the learning disabilities treated by the facility.

The Augmentative Learning and Movement Center will provide “therapeutic and education services as well as behavioral medicine for individuals with learning disabilities with a special focus on autism,” according to the permit application. It will accommodate a maximum of eight children and employ between six and 10 staff members. The center will be open between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. most days.

ALMC works with local school districts to provide the many additional services beyond the standard curriculum often required by students with learning problems. Those services can include physical therapy, psychological counseling and speech therapy.

ALMC can help public schools with such students by “integrating educational, therapeutic and medical programs in the school setting and in the community,” its Web site says. The center also offers evaluations, training and workshops for school districts.

The Augmentative Learning and Movement Center also operates facilities in Morrisville and Enosburg. Those locations include an independent private school, but the Williston facility will not offer a standalone school.

Margaret Novotny, ALMC’s executive director, said after last week’s meeting that she already knows of a number of local children with learning disabilities that may use the Williston center’s services. Novotny plans to open the facility in January.