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Fruit Belt charter school moving into former Mount St. Joe's

WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond

The Aloma D. Johnson Fruit Belt Community Charter School is moving into North Buffalo.The school is currently packed into the Bennett W. Smith Family Life Center of Saint John Baptist Church. It will be moving in the fall to a building at Main and Jewett originally built for the landmark Central Presbyterian Church.

The church was used for two successive schools, most recently the now-closed Mount Saint Joseph's Academy.

The building is now owned by Ellicott Development Company and will be leased to Aloma D. Johnson. Ellicott CEO William Paladino says it is in good shape. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond

"There is no gym in there. But the classrooms, the church, the sanctuary area, the cafeteria...it's pretty much set up for a school as Mount Saint Joe's used to operate in the facility. So, except for some change of carpets, put some paint on the walls, the transformation to use the facility for Aloma has been rather simple given the prior uses and what the structure was originally constructed for," Paladino says.

Ellicott has experience since it has built one charter and renovated buildings for two others. Paladino says there are some financing issues since charters are only licensed by Albany for up to five years. He says Ellicott will handle the financing itself.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.