Roscommon Second Chance Academy To Shut Doors In Summer

“I know we’ve made a lot of difference in a lot of kids’ lives.”

The doors will soon close at a Roscommon County academy dedicated to helping struggling kids.

Second Chance Academy has helped students for more than two decades.

The academy, on Lake Street in the Village of Roscommon, will close its doors for good on June 30.

The idea behind Second Chance Academy is to help every child that finds themselves “in a gap” — getting them back on the road to graduating from high school.

The county administrator says it has become just too costly.

“Second Chance Academy will close as a Roscommon County entity at the end of June,” says Jodi Valentino, Roscommon County administrator and controller.

It’s an announcement that comes after months of the county trying to find a way to avoid it.

“There were attempts to make Second Chance Academy a self-sufficient entity still under the umbrella of the county that are not working,” Valentino says. “It’s dependent upon the school districts to pay a 45 dollar per day, per student in seat, per diem. They cannot fiscally afford it.”

Commissioner Ken Melvin says ultimately it was a difficult move.

“It’s about $57,000 behind,” Melvin says. “Fiscal responsibility has overwhelmed our desire to provide services to a portion of our youth in our county.”

“It used to be fully funded by both the childcare fund, which is a state grant 50-50 split, with the general fund and us, and the schools would play a certain amount of their FDE per student money that they would get. Of course, all the money gets cut,” Valentino says. “Being under the county government umbrella, we are not a 501-c3, not for profit, therefore we are not eligible for a lot of grant funding that would be out there.”

It’s a feeling that hits longtime staff even harder.

“It’s a sad day,” says Lori Wybraniec, director and social work at Second Chance Academy. “I mean, there’s going to be a huge hole in the community.”

“It is so rewarding to be here because you get kids that come in here and they feel defeated,” says Carolyn Bartholomew, Second Chance Academy mentor. “To see them succeed, it’s the best.”

Bartholomew has mentored second chance kids for 20 years.

“We have a lot of successful students that are in our community right now, some of them are downstate,” Bartholomew says. “Those students are proud. They come back and they visit us.”

Wybraniec says she will keep services running until June, including activities inside and outside of the building.

“The kids come in here and they earn their levels and they learn social skills, and we ultimately have the goal to help them to transition back to the public school,” Wybraniec says. “We have gone to the quilt shop and they’ve quilted. We’ve taught them how to cook through MSU Extension, comes in the summertime.”

She says with each student, there is a deeper story.

“I think it’s made a huge difference. We have kids over the years that have graduated with their high school diploma,” Wybraniec says. “We have kids over the years that have graduated with their GEDs, kids who have gone to Kirtland Community College, which they might not have had that opportunity.”

Despite the news, the county says all 11 students relying on the academy now will not be forgotten.

“If they complete the programs and there’s no students in them we will use that time to rehash and review the resources and make sure that things are being closed out properly,” Valentino says.

The county is looking into using the detention center’s services next door for future mentoring programs.

“We might be able to utilize that teacher who currently teaches anywhere from 10 to 12 juvenile detention youth in using that as a model as well,” Valentino says. “That is a possibility we will be exploring as well for next year.”