Beaufort schools no longer considering partnership with MindStream

Academy's future uncertain amid foreclosure

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comDecember 4, 2013 

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A potential partnership between the Beaufort County School District and MindStream Academy to help students who struggle with their weight is no more.

Superintendent Jeffrey Moss said the Board of Education's Curriculum and Instruction Committee decided several weeks ago that the program was "not the right fit" for the district. This decision came not long after Moss first introduced the idea earlier this fall, he said.

The committee's decision came before the district learned that MindStream -- a small boarding school in Bluffton that focuses on helping students lose weight -- was facing foreclosure, Moss said.

The academy is more than two years behind on mortgage payments and must move out of its Bluffton location, according to court documents.

A circuit court judge ruled Nov. 13 that the property's owner, Calvary Training Center, could foreclose on the school at 11 Grassey Lane. However, MindStream founder and CEO Ray Travaglione could appeal that decision.

MindStream director of programs Sarah Stone said she could not comment on whether the academy will eventually move, but said it is staying at its current home for now. She also said the program will continue, and there have been no staff cuts.

The success of an academy partnership with another school system was questioned in a recent Kansas City Star article, which reported that several students from a Missouri district who participated in the program last year had gained back some of the weight they lost during their stay at MindStream.

Spokeswoman Nancy Lewis said Independence Public School District leaders felt it was not "sustainable" to continue to send students to the program.

Stone said some kids have put on a little weight since leaving the academy but remain within a healthy range.

"It is definitely a challenge to go from this kind of full-time environment (at MindStream) back in to a traditional one," she said. "But we overall are pleased with the reports of students coming back to us."

Curriculum Committee Chairwoman Geri Kinton said the transition from the MindStream program into everyday life was a concern for her as she considered whether a similar partnership with Beaufort schools would merit what the program would cost the district.

Nonetheless, Kinton said she thinks schools have a responsibility to help students with their health.

"I think we are responsible for taking care of the whole child, and that includes physical well-being, as well as mental," she said. "But there are different ways of going about that."

Moss said the district is still committed to helping students and will examine ways it can raise awareness about obesity. Providing instruction and information on meal planning, nutrition and ways to be active are possibilities.

"I don't think we bear the total responsibility because obviously we have students for a short period of their day and can't control what happens (outside of school)," Moss said.

"But I think that we have a commitment to try to educate students on healthful living, foods and those kinds of things," he added. "And many of our schools are already doing that in different ways."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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