Special-needs school changes position, will remain open

Mainspring Academy on Southside had announced plans to dissolve in May

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After Mainspring Academy's board of directors met with parents, teachers and staff, the special-needs school reversed its decision to close at the end of this school year.

Bonny Fershtman said she struggled to find the perfect school for her 10-year-old, who has Down syndrome. He currently attends Mainspring Academy.

"He would rather just elope and not sit where there’s other kids sitting," Fershtman said. "Mainspring Academy was able to knock that out in a month and a half."

Fershtman was one of many parents who were devastated after learning the school planned to close.

"My heart just dropped the minute I read the letter," she said. "I could not even believe it."

The school cited financial challenges as a reason it could not remain open but announced Wednesday that it reconsidered at the urging of parents and community members.

Fershtman said she's filled with hope after learning the school plans to stay open, however, the school needs to raise $150,000 by May. It has a longer-term goal of raising $500,000 by the end of 2020. The board envisions growing Mainspring’s student population by 25-30 percent within the next three years.

LINK: Fundraising site for Mainspring Academy

In a statement, the school said it will expand services to include school-break and summer programs for students who need small group programs and applied behavior analysis therapy support.

The school plans to relocate from its Southpoint location for the 2019-20 school year to a new site designed to focus on learning differences, which will include adaptive technologies, a sensory room and an accessible playground.

For more information about the school or donations, visit MainspringAcademy.org or call 904-503-0344.

HELPFUL LINKS: Jacksonville schools for special-needs students
Gardiner Scholarship ProgramMcKay Scholarship