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City approves school's Life Skills Center



A proposed special purpose building for the Stevens Point School District was approved Monday by the city council. It’s called the Life Skills Center, and will be built next to Stevens Point Area High School to offer specialized training for students with disabilities.

A previous plan for the Life Skills Center was rejected, and the school district returned with a smaller structure to fit a different location, just west of SPASH between North Point Drive and their parking lot.

Some council members and people in the audience were concerned the proposed building should look institutional, to blend in with the existing SPASH building. Alderman Michael O’Meara said the style of construction won’t really matter there. “If you’re trying to have something that looks residential because you’re going to simulate being in a residence, it should look like one. It’s not going to screw up our neighborhood. Right across the street is residential. Right around the corner on First Street is residential.”

Superintendent Attila Weninger is pleased the district’s second attempt to move ahead was accepted by the city. “What we talked about when it was first rejected was, what are we really after here? What we are after is fulfilling the concept, and the concept is that building and what it can bring for our kids.” He adds, “We’re very, very glad that the council voted so strongly in favor of it. It think that shows we’ve come back to them with a plan that meets their requirements, and as several council members noted, it’s really the (school) district’s choice about where it is provided that it meets the city’s requirements.”

Cognitive Disabilities Teacher Andrea Marty is thrilled the proposal passed city council, saying the facility will help over 35 students with various disabilities get ready for the real world. “For our program, this is going to mean that every single one of our students is going to have somewhere to learn life skills, whereas before, many of our students couldn’t do it because it was not handicapped-accessible. This is huge for so many of our kids in their education and how they’re going to live their life after high school.”

The approximately 3,000 square foot building will incorporate a classroom and a meeting room, as well as handicapped accessible bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen to practice the skills students will need after high school.

(Our interviews with Dr. Attila Weninger and teacher Andrea Marty can be heard by clicking the hyperlinks on their names, here.)