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Gunbarrel, CO: School seeks to expand dyslexia program for $8M; "to meet increased demand"

July 16, 2022, Yahoo News, Boulder, CO: Gunbarrel's Hillside School seeks to expand its intensive dyslexia program

Gunbarrel's Hillside School is planning to expand to meet increased demand for spots in its intensive program for students with dyslexia, along with adding space for evaluations, community information meetings and teacher training.

"Just through word of mouth, our waitlist is increasing every year," said Lindsay Eddy, Hillside's development director. "Prior to COVID, we had a 35% increase in admission requests. We had even more during COVID. The demand is really strong. We were hearing from families who were feeling desperate to get their kids in, and we didn't have space."…

The private school's request to construct a larger building and increase its enrollment to up to 136 students recently was conditionally approved by the Boulder County commissioners….

School leaders are proposing a new, 14,284-square-foot building with 13 classrooms that would be constructed in two phases at a total cost of about $8 million. In the first phase, the plan is to build onto the existing building to add classroom space.

At Hillside, one teacher works with four students on reading, writing and math in three-hour, intensive daily sessions. Students attend either a morning or an afternoon session. For the other half of the day, they attend regular schools or are homeschooled….

The school's building accommodates 32 students in each of the morning and afternoon sessions, for a total of 64. Another 16 students — eight in each session — attend at the church. Altogether, the school now serves 80 students, ages 6 to 14.

The existing special use agreement allows for up to 110 students. The new agreement increases that number to 136, or 68 for each session. The expansion also would allow the school to add high school students….

Several parents spoke at the recent Boulder County commissioners meeting about the need for Hillside's services.

Kym Hansler, who has an 11-year-old son at Hillside and can see the school from her front yard, said she understands construction may be annoying to the school's neighbors. But, she said, any inconvenience is outweighed by the school's potential to help children like hers. She said her son was in kindergarten when he switched from a happy kid to one exhibiting signs of depression as he struggled with reading. A friend who is a reading specialist suggested a dyslexia evaluation.

Once diagnosed, he began attending Hillside in first grade. Now, she said, he's reading at grade level and thriving, along with making plans to attend MIT for college. She added Hillside taught him to see his learning differences as a strength, not a weakness….


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