Friday October 14, 2011

GREAT BARRINGTON -- The Kolburne School closed its residential facility here this week -- the second such closing in the past year.

School officials say the decision to close the school is part of its new direction toward more community- based programs. It’s also a response to cuts in state aid and declining interest in residential treatment.

"In part, this is a continuation of what we consider to be a right-sizing of our residential program," said Maxine Carter-Lome, a Kolburne spokeswoman.

Kolburne’s residential treatment facilities currently house 56 youths, down from more than 70 last year, and less than half of the peak of more than 120 students several years ago.

Located along Route 7, the Waldrum House was being used by six youths before it closed on Wednesday. Kolburne also closed the Caldwell House in Sheffield in December 2010.

Kolburne still operates its 34-acre Brigham Center in Lee and its 800-acre Woodruff campus in New Marlborough. The Lee campus absorbed most of the students from the Great Barrington facility, according to Carter-Lome.

The Waldrum House will not be sold by Kolburne, and school officials are still looking at ways to utilize the space for a different program. There were no layoffs associated with the closing of the Waldrum House.

The Caldwell House was closed, according to Carter-Lome, because it was not owned by Kolburne, but rather the school’s founders, the Weinstein family. The family has since sold the property.

Carter-Lome said the current industry trend is toward more home care with families wanting their children nearer, and Kolburne is facing declines in residential care similar to facilities across the state.

Kolburne is in the midst of a transition, with Neil Berger taking over as executive director for co-founder Jeane K. Weinstein last March. The school also has taken on a new name, Kolburne Therapeutic Communities, and administrators are looking to incorporate their methodology and expand their presence at more local after-school programs and summer camp.

To reach Trevor Jones:

tjones@berkshireeagle.com,

or (413) 528-3660.