School Board Unveils Plans for Constructing Life Skills Center
by Brandi Makuski
Public school board members have been in talks to finalize construction plans for a new, district-owned duplex next door to SPASH.
The 3,000 square foot home will serve as the base of operations of the district’s Life Skills Center- an informal setting designed to provide independent living skills for students with various cognitive or emotional disabilities. Topics include home economics, personal grooming and socialization skills.
“It’s a unique setting where students can have that one- on- one peer mentoring,” said district Superintendent Attila Weninger.
The new building would come with a $400k price tag, which is being taken from the district’s fund balance, but Weninger said he expects full reimbursement from the state Medicaid program for the project.
“We get reimbursed for a variety of things from the Medicaid program, and we have a very good year for being reimbursed,” he added.
The property would also be home to the Blue Light Cafe, where disabled students will work with students from the Community Partners program to cook, plate and serve members of the school staff and the community.
According to district minutes, “over 10 hours” of interviews were conducted with eight different companies. The interviews included a list of 27 questions for each company, which were provided in advance. Board policy dictates the interview process issued instead of Request for Proposal submissions, as typically used by city and county governments.
The district chose The Samuels Group based in Wausau.
The need for a new building was still in question by some board members.
“Don’t we already own a home?” Asked board member Kim Shirek. “I guess I don’t see the need for a brand new, constructed property if we’ve already got a home we can use- wouldn’t that save money?”
Weninger told the board the home was located on Hoover Avenue, but it was already rented out.
“But it’s in the middle of about ten acres of Pines (trees), but it’s unrealistic because of transportation issues,” he added.
According to property records, the district also owns a brick residential home next door to vacant district- owned lots on Second Street North that is also being rented.
Weninger said the project had already been approved by the board for it applied for the grant in June, and would be the most- discussed project the district had on it’s plate.
“It will have come before the board four times in one year before construction is approved,” he said.
The topic will come before the board again at it’s January meeting.