District 220 parents call new facility for special-needs transition program inadequate

  • Gay Lennihan, foreground, and Kathy Kotel, members of the advisory board BEST 220, address the Barrington Unit District 220 board Tuesday about their concerns with the planned new facility for the district's transition program for graduates with special needs.

      Gay Lennihan, foreground, and Kathy Kotel, members of the advisory board BEST 220, address the Barrington Unit District 220 board Tuesday about their concerns with the planned new facility for the district's transition program for graduates with special needs. Eric Peterson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted6/19/2019 5:33 AM

An advisory board of parents of children with special needs told the Barrington Unit District 220 school board Tuesday night a new facility in the works for a program that prepares high school graduates of varying abilities to live as independently as possible was inadequate.

The parents suggested parts of the district's new administration building or the old one as alternatives. The school board did not commit to a course of action in front of the standing-room-only crowd, but it scheduled a meeting with the group for 8 a.m. this Thursday, June 20, at the administration building at 515 W. Main St. in Barrington.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We want you to know that we're listening and we do care," school board President Penny Kazmier said. "We think we're moving in the right direction."

Members of the advisory board BEST 220 said the 1,658-square-foot leased space being prepared in the office building at 1525 S. Grove Ave. in Barrington is far from the upgrade they were hoping for in the transition program's planned move from a house on Sturtz Street next to St. Michael's Episcopal Church, where it's been for 12 years.

Kathy Kotel of Inverness, a representative of BEST 220, said that when district administrators told them of a search for a better facility last November, 3,000 square feet was identified as its target size.

Kotel said the site chosen is not adequate even on a temporary basis for the 22 students who will be in the program this coming school year.

She suggested instead either space in the village's new administration building or the administration site just left behind at 310 James St.

"The district must plan for a long-term, district-owned solution," she said. "A news article stated that the lot on James Street could be used to build a permanent facility. What serious consideration was ever given to building a transition facility on James Street?"

With preparation work on the Grove Avenue facility having begun only Monday, Kotel said she won't accept that it's too late to use the new administration building instead.

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