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RACINE - Taylor Home and Education Center has dropped two of its three programs, including one for students that the Racine Unified School District has not been able to handle.

The decision has forced Unified to rearrange its programs and take those youths back.

Taylor Home, 3131 Taylor Ave., had contracted for years with Unified to run Taylor Education Center, an alternative school program for middle and high school students.

Taylor Home Director Delores Teale said the center was closed last week "because of underfunding by Unified for the last 15 to 20 years." She said the funds have fallen short by an average of $70,000 during that time.

"It was (kept in operation) as part of the Taylor Home mission, but there's only so long you can do that," Teale said.

Jose Martinez, Unified's assistant superintendent for secondary education, said Unified was paying Taylor Home exactly what the contract called for. The amount was $253,600 last school year. But he acknowledged it was less money than the program actually cost to offer.

Burned bridges

Teale said the program was "for kids who have burned their bridges behind them in other school programs. They have gone through all other options and then would come here." Those other options included the Mack Achievement Center for middle and high school students with various issues including truancy and criminal histories.

Taylor Education Center typically had 25 to 30 youths at any given time and about 40 to 45 during the course of a year, Teale said. Each student might stay for two or three semesters.

Taylor Home also dropped the Community Placement Program, a live-in program for delinquent adolescent boys. Community Placement, which was less than a year old, was done in collaboration with Racine County and Professional Services Group.

It cost $150 per day per boy, and $184 per boy per day for those with more complex issues such as mental health problems.

Where they'll go

Teale said the number of users was too low to justify continuing the program. May 31 was its last day.

Many of those boys, she said, will now be served from their own homes; a few went to other residential care centers in other cities. Racine County is looking for more cost-effective ways of doing things, Teale said.

"It really is a loss of services for the Racine community," she said. "So it's been very difficult." Rising costs for insurance, utilities and other needs forced Taylor Home to cut loose the programs that weren't paying their way.

Teale said some users of the now-defunct Taylor Education Center will likely return to the streets rather than to school. "There are some that were expelled," she said. "They had one more chance, and that's Taylor Education Center. And I don't know that there's going to be an option for those kids at this time."

Martinez said Unified will use what it calls Creative Options For Youth, comprised of some old and some new programs, to address various kinds of students. Much of that will happen at the Mack Center.

Most of the students that had gone to Taylor will go to Mack, he said. Some will go back to their home school if they have made enough progress.

Mack will add a staff member to help deal with the new contingent of students, Martinez said.

Unified will also add the Transitional Education Program in cooperation with Racine County Human Services Department and Professional Services Group, he said. The services will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for youths who have been through the criminal justice system. Most also have drug and /or alcohol issues.

The one remaining program at Taylor Home now is Family Support For Gang Diversion, an after-school program. Teale said the board will, in the next few months, decide what additional services to offer.

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