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Reading Center breaks ground on expanded Dyslexia Institute

September 18, 2018

The writing was on the wall. The Reading Center Dyslexia Institute of Minnesota in Rochester needs a new home.

In the last five years, the center has helped students and teachers from 45 counties in Minnesota and served others from 14 other states. The Reading Center’s current location at 847 Fifth St. N.W. has 3,000 square-feet of space. Last year, 183 students received one-on-one instruction in one of the three tutor classrooms the space holds.

“You can do the math on that,” said Cindy Russell, the Reading Center’s executive director. “It’s inhibiting our ability to serve students.”

Center and community leaders broke ground Sunday on a new $3.8 million, 10,000 square-foot space at 2010 Scott Road N.W.

A capital campaign began in 2015 has already secured more than 75 percent of the funds needed for the new building. The biggest contributions include $1.5 million in state bonding funds, support from Mayo Clinic and support from Otto Bremer Foundation and others.

Sen. Dave Senjem said he supported the Senate measure allocating funds to the center. The Rochester Republican was at the groundbreaking event and said it will fill a statewide need.

Once the project became a reality, he heard from more people who had experience with dyslexia.

“Day by day with this project, more and more people have been coming out saying they have dyslexia,” he said.

About one in five people have some form of dyslexia, Russell said. That means about 135,000 Minnesota students deal with the disorder.

In addition to more than three times the space, and providing nine rooms for one-on-one tutoring, the new facility will be equipped with communication technology to expand its online programs. Currently, about 31 percent of the tutoring the center provides is done online, Russell said.

But it’s not just students the center serves, she added.

“We provide training to teachers,” she said. “They in turn reach more students.”

The center expects to move into the new facility in mid-2019. With the capital campaign near complete, Russell and center leaders expect to be debt free when that happens.

“We’ll be in a good position and can focus on our mission — helping people with dyslexia — by then,” she said.

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