State Sen. Sue Rezin tours Lighted Way facilities in La Salle

Goal of visit to provide more grant funding opportunities

State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) meets with Lighted Way Executive Director Jessica Kreiser at the current Lighted Way building on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023 in La Salle. Lighted Way will be moving this summer from their 10,000-square-foot center to a 33,000-square-foot center and will allow better programming and more activities.

State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, was impressed with the direction the Lighted Way School in La Salle is moving.

The state lawmaker made a visit to the school Monday and to the new location students will be moving into in August.

Lighted Way is a non-profit, non-public school for students ages 3 to 22 with disabilities. Jessica Kreiser, executive director of Lighted Way, asked Rezin to visit so she can see the school, meet students and staff and help pass along funding opportunities for the new school.

Rezin said she had “a great tour” of both the old and new buildings. She said it’s night and day between the school now and the new location.

“There’s no question the old building has served its purpose, they’ve had five different add-ons to the building, they do a great job, but they’re also cramped in the rooms they have,” Rezin said. “This new building will allow each classroom to have the adequate space they need in order to make sure the students have all the tools that they need to improve.”

Lighted Way is located in a converted house in La Salle that has had multiple add-ons since it relocated there in 1963. The school houses 47 students from 23 area school districts and 53 employees in five classrooms.

Since it opened in the basement of the La Salle Public Library in 1957, Lighted Way has taught a total of 512 students.

As numbers grew, the space became small, and the board members of Lighted Way chose to move to a new building rather than cap enrollment or build on again.

“Everything comes back to our students,” Kreiser said. “Our goal is to make sure we’re providing a quality education to our kids.”

There are about 20 students on the waiting list for Lighted Way because of space restrictions. The new building, located at the former Heritage Manor in La Salle, will allow the school to triple its square footage, expand to six classrooms and increase capacity to 60 students.

Kreiser said she wanted to show off both spaces to Rezin so she can better connect with the program and have the insight when passing along grant funding opportunities. With the costs associated with the new building, Kreiser said she wants to tap into all possible funding resources.

Rezin said state grant opportunities come across her desk often. By taking the tour, she said she’ll be able to connect the program to funding.

“We need to make sure we are giving the children that are developmentally disabled all of the opportunities that kids in the traditional schools have,” Rezin said.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Lighted Way school is scheduled 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at 1445 Chartres St.

“There’s a lot of faith that’s gone into this adventure, but the driving force has been around creating a safe environment for children with disabilities in the Illinois Valley area,” Kreiser said.