Transition 99 expansion would serve growing number of students

Build out would feature new classrooms, sensory area

The Community High School District 99 Board of Education is weighing a proposal to build out the existing facility that houses the district’s Transition 99 program.

Transition 99 is a program designed to serve students with special needs who could benefit from coursework that covers life and work skills needed after high school.

A presentation to the school board shows that program participation next year is expected to grow to 76 students from 61.

Lisa Bollow, District 99′s director of special education, said there is a growing need for the Transition 99 center to accommodate more students in the year to come.

“These are our students coming from our multi-needs building programs into T99 as grade 13 students,” Bollow said.

The Transition 99 center, 4232 Venard Road, is in talks among officials to convert the large space in the back of the building that is currently used for storage.

Mark Staehlin, District 99′s controller, said the proposal doesn’t require any expansion of the center’s existing footprint.

“It’s just building out that area we’ve always expected to build out,” Staehlin said.

The Transition 99 center opened in January 2014, according to the district’s website. The district envisions the build out will allow the center to add two additional classrooms, storage space, bathrooms and a larger sensory area.

Bollow said the build out would allow the district to serve more of its students who would otherwise attend private school transition programs.

“We do have a population of students that go through ninth and tenth grade, not at [Downers Grove] North and South, but absolutely can benefit from our Transition 99 program,” she said. “For us, to be able to bring back those students into Transition 99, which we’ve been doing a fair amount, even in these last four years, we’re able to provide them that quality transition program in their home community, but at the same time, saving those private tuition dollars.”

In the next year, the district wants to employ an additional teacher to staff one of the added classrooms, bringing the total to six, according to school board documents. Officials estimate they will need to pay two additional teachers an estimated $825,000 over the next six years.

Project costs are estimated at $985,000, according to school board documents. The district anticipates it will realize a cost savings of at least $1.1 million in private school transition program tuition over the next six years.

The school board will put the Transition 99 build out proposal to a vote during its Jan. 25 meeting.