District Sees Another Delay in Life Skills Center
An artistic rendering of the completed Life Skill Center. (Stevens Point School District)
By Sara Marls
The Stevens Point School Board on Sept. 15 postponed moving ahead with constructing a Life Skills Center next to SPASH, the latest in a series of delays, tabled votes and requests for additional information with have lasted almost a full year.
The LSC will encompass independent living skills education for special needs students, as well as Threads of Kindness and the Blue Light Café- where invited community members can order lunch prepared by the students.
Currently, students in the class have to cross Northpoint Drive to attend the class in a rented apartment, as project leaders say the home-like setting is essential for the students’ success in the program, which accommodates special needs students up to age 21.
School Superintendent Attila Weninger initially approached city leaders in January asking for permission to construct the 3,030 square- foot building facing Second St. North. At that time officials from Stevens Point worried the center was too close to existing taverns in the neighborhood, potentially violating state law. The building was relocated to a portion of land directly next to SPASH facing Northpoint Drive and now has city approval to move ahead with putting together bid packages with the new plans.
But members of the school board are proving tougher to impress. Board Member Kim Shirek in May said she thought the project should not move any further because no final cost projections were available at that time.
Now, with almost half a million dollars of the construction cost is expected to be reimbursed through a Medicaid program, more than $12,000 in private donations and a total bid package of $858,000, Shirek said she still wants more details, and others on the board weren’t comfortable with the vote either.
“I think we should wait until the final report comes in from the Consolidated Task Force,” said Board Member Lisa Totten. “I don’t think we should make any decisions until then.”
The task force has been meeting regularly for several months to study and make recommendations relating to grade realignment, building improvements and graduation requirements.
The board has for several months much limited progress on bringing the LSC to fruition, citing issues over budget concerns, location of the building and transporting students back and forth between the building and SPASH during inclement weather.
Board Member Trish Baker said she felt uncomfortable voting for the project because she didn’t know much about it.
“I need to know what I’m voting for before I can vote on this,” she said.
The board agreed to postpone the vote until its Sept. 29th meeting.