Over the next two years, an assisted living facility, similar in principle to an SOS Children’s Village, will be built in the Grafenspital in Schwertberg. Last week, the municipal council unanimously decided on a building lease agreement with the “Social Initiative” for a period of 40 years from January 2023.
The organization, which specializes in the care of children from precarious family backgrounds, will convert the Grafenspital, which has been empty for years, into a boarding school with living and common rooms for around 20 children of compulsory school age (6 to 14 years). The operator concept provides for the children to be cared for around the clock by educators and to go home to their parents at the weekend or during vacation and public holidays.
“The pandemic has made everyday life even more difficult for many children whose parents were already overwhelmed with their care responsibilities. In the future, these children should be offered a good environment in Schwertberg, so that they can learn in peace and also find security and self-confidence for their future path in the company of experts,” says the mayor of Schwertberg, Max Oberleitner (VP) about the objectives of this boarding school.
The plans for this use of the Grafenspital at the schools in Schwertberg caused irritation. The appeal was made to the municipal council that one had already reached the limit of capacity and could not take on any further pedagogical tasks. “Of course, I take this call for help very seriously and have promised the teachers that we will fully involve them in the preparation,” says Oberleitner. We are in close contact with the education department. Oberleitner: “If there is additional pedagogical effort, we will not leave the school alone, but offer an external care service. This can also be dislocated, as is already being practiced with the learning support in Neu-Schwertberg. You won’t be able to avoid hiring one or the other special education specialist.”
Experiences in Bad Goisern
Oberleitner refers to the many years of experience of the boarding school provider and to discussions with the municipality of Bad Goisern, where the social initiative also runs a boarding school. There are almost no operational difficulties there. In addition, the 20 boarding school children are not all taught in Schwertberg, but in several schools in the area: “We’re talking about three to four students per school here,” says Oberleitner, which was agreed at a round table with the education department.