Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 officials have agreed to lease a building in downtown Wheaton to house their transition program for special-needs students ages 18 to 22.
Joanne Panopoulos, assistant superintendent for student services, said the transition program has been at Hubble Middle School for the past three years because of a budget crunch the district faced a few years ago.
An average of 35 students receive services each year through the program, which provides a curriculum focused on community skills, daily living skills and functional academics.
"We know that that's not a suitable location for them," Panopoulos said of Hubble. "We've looked at our budget and reallocated funds so we can make sure that we can support this location change for our students."
The three-year lease approved Wednesday is for a 2,500-square-foot space in a one-story building at 100 Bridge St.
Panopoulos said the building will be ready for use by July 1 and will give students better access to public transportation to reach vocational options.
For the first year, the estimated cost of rent will be about $30,800, which will be fully funded by Medicaid.
Parents already have set up an online fundraiser at gofundme.com to raise money for furniture and supplies for the new space.
Panopoulos said district officials also have reached out to local businesses such as Lowes, Staples and Home Depot for donations.
"Our parents and students will be thrilled with this transition," Superintendent Brian Harris said. "(The parents have) been patient and we believe we've found a location that's appropriate."
For now, Harris said, the district will only be leasing a portion of the building. He said there's another portion of the property, however, that the district is considering leasing for other uses.