District 128 plans to repurpose storefront for vocational transition program for young adults
Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 plans to repurpose an empty end unit in a Libertyville strip mall for a program helping young adults with disabilities develop the skills to live independently.
Village officials recently approved a special use allowing the district to convert a 6,000-square-foot commercial space in the Green Tree Plaza shopping center for a new transition program.
District 128 is pursuing a lease for the storefront at 1125 S. Milwaukee Ave. It would be used as a place where young adults can learn employable and daily living skills. As envisioned, it would include classrooms, a conference room, kitchen space and laundry facilities, according to the school district.
"Students of the communities of District 128 have a need for this type of special programming and the communities will benefit as a result of having it in this location," according to information submitted to the village.
The transitional program is planned to debut in the 2022-23 school year with 18 to 25 students expected, based on current enrollment.
Federal law requires public schools to provide planning and services for students with disabilities. That includes specially designed, post-high school programs to help students learn to be as independent as possible.
Students throughout Lake County primarily are served through the Special Education District of Lake County in different sites around the county.
However, those options are narrowing as school districts continue to move transitional services back to their high schools, according to Kelli Hartweg, District 128 director of special services.
Locating at Green Tree would allow access to public transportation, local businesses, recreation and leisure options, health and wellness resources and other benefits, she added.
The transition program would provide instruction in employment, community involvement, socialization, personal health and safety, and independent living, among other skills.
Students in the program would spend a portion of their 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. day at prevocational worksites at businesses or at the College of Lake County. Another portion would be spent working on community access skills off site.
At the Green Tree location, students would learn daily living skills and take part in other activities, such as speech therapy.
According to District 128, young adults with disabilities frequently stay in their home community after high school and become consumers and workers. Using public transportation and learning and working in local business areas are critical, the district said.