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Sunday, Sep 24, 2017
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Pasco school for troubled teens reaches lease deal with district

LAND O' LAKES - AMIKids Pasco has worked out a deal with the Pasco County School District that will allow the school for troubled teens to keep operating for at least another year. The school board agreed Tuesday night to lease the administration building at the old Richey Elementary to AMIKids for $1,500 a month. Under the agreement, AMIKids would also pay for utilities. "Our goal is to continue our operation and continue to be a partner with this district," said Eric Hall, national director of educational services for AMIKids. The Pasco operation for AMIKids recently lost its contract with the Department of Juvenile Justice and faced the possibility of shutting down.
Under the contract with the school district, AMIKids will serve 50 students and will receive most of the state funding that would have gone to the district for those students. The students likely will be teenagers who faced possible expulsion because of significant discipline problems. The staff and students at Richey Elementary are moving into a new school building this year and that's why the school's old administration building is vacant. AMIKids Pasco has worked with the school district since 1993, but had a separate facility in New Port Richey. Another company won its contract with the Department of Juvenile Justice this year. In addition to its contract with the school district, AMIKids also is hoping for an assist from the Board of County Commissioners. State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, an advocate of AMIKids, appealed to commissioners Tuesday for a one-time allocation of $140,000 to help the center pay its transportation costs for the next school year "until we, in Tallahassee, can take care of it next year." "The services they provide are second to none," Fasano said. Bob Langford, president of AMIKids Pasco, said the funding would allow the school to maintain two bus routes. County Administrator John Gallagher said commissioners could discuss the matter as they deliberate the budget over the next two months. Chairwoman Ann Hildebrand pledged to "work with you" on the funding. Commissioners Pat Mulieri and Henry Wilson also praised the program. "Whatever consideration you can afford us is certainly appreciated," said Mark Carroll, executive director of AMIKids Pasco. AMIKids Pasco is one of more than 50 AMIKids programs in nine states. The group is headquartered in Tampa.

Pasco Tribune reporter Laura Kinsler contributed to this article. rblair@tampatrib.com (813) 371-1853

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