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Sylvan acquires Tampa's Progressus

A Tampa company that provides special-education therapists to public schools in 20 states has been acquired.

Progressus Therapy Inc. said Tuesday it agreed to be purchased by Sylvan Education Solutions, a Baltimore company that provides federally mandated remedial tutoring services for low-income students.

Sylvan president Jeffrey Cohen said he plans to keep Progressus' 25-person headquarters in Tampa. The goal, he said, is for Progressus and Sylvan to grow larger by providing services to one anothers' clients.

"When we looked at Progressus, the synergies kind of jumped off the page," Cohen said. "We found what we think is a hidden gem in the education world, tucked away here in Tampa."

Sylvan Education Solutions is a subsidiary of Educate Inc., a private company that purchased the kindergarten-through-12th grade businesses of publicly traded Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. in July. Educate also bought the better-known Sylvan Learning Centers, which provide fee-based, after-school homework help mostly to suburban students.

Though terms of the deal were not disclosed, Michael McBurnie, the chief executive, founder and majority owner of Progressus, said he will stay on as an employee of the company with about $20-million in annual revenue.

In addition to its Tampa headquarters, Progressus has offices in Los Angeles, the San Francisco area, Baltimore and Honolulu. It has about 320 therapists who educate children with such conditions as autism, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities and speech and hearing problems. It helps some clients design and manage their special-education programs.

McBurnie said Progressus' Florida clients include the Miami-Dade and Fort Lauderdale school districts but none in the Tampa Bay area.

Cohen said Sylvan Education Solutions does work for Hillsborough County schools. In August, Hernando County's School Board rejected a proposal to hire Sylvan as an after-school tutor for 120 low-performing third-graders.

_ Information from Times files was included in this report. Scott Barancik can be reached at baranciksptimes.com or (727) 893-8751.

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