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District reopens new adult transition building

By Lisa Brody

After a two-year long renovation to its Birmingham Adult Transition Building (BATP), Birmingham Public Schools will hold a ribbon cutting on Tuesday, October 25, at 5:30 p.m. to welcome students and family back.

Formerly known as “The Annex,” the BATP is a unique school for adults with mild cognitive impairments, autism, or other developmental disabilities between the ages of 18-26.

Students attending the BATP must be recommended during their senior year of high school, have an IEP to participate, and not have taken their diploma upon the completion of high school. The program’s purpose is to provide continuing education in the areas of community access, pre-vocational skills and life skills that some students need beyond high school.

Birmingham Schools officials said the renovation work was part of the district's $195 million bond, which was approved in March 2020. Renee Ruiz, a special education supervisor for the district and the principal for the BATP, worked to keep the renovation process tightly connected to the unique needs of the students and staff who go to school and work in this building, the district said.

“This is a building that was badly in need of renovation. The physical layout of the building was hindering the work we do with this adult population of students,” Ruiz explained.

Students and staff were interviewed on what they wanted to see in the new building and how filling that need would improve student learning. One teacher said she would like “adequate space to work on activities of daily living, such as cooking, practicing job skills, and laundry” so that “the students can experience an increased level of independence when they leave the program.”

Walking through the BATP now, it is clear that this and many other needs have been met with the completion of this major renovation, the district said.

The new BATP building houses eight classrooms with new student furniture and fully adjustable and dimmable lighting. Special adult-sized regular and adaptive furniture was purchased to meet the needs of students. The new community room is a place where students can eat lunch, prepare food, wash and dry laundry, or practice adult living skills in the studio apartment that is attached to the community room. The new sensory room is a place where students can go to swing, rest, or interact with any of the new sensory equipment that was purchased specifically with autistic adults in mind.

The building also houses several office spaces where therapists can work individually with a student or with a small group of students.

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