ROCK SPRINGS – The Sweetwater County School District No. 1 unanimously voted to move the special service transition programs to Lowell School which will result in the demolition of the 1922 portion of the building.
Moving the transition program is not a new idea for the district. In March of 2016, the board unanimously voted to begin renovations on the new portions of the Lowell building to house the special services transition program. Because of asbestos and other dangers, the 1922 portion of the building was blocked off. These renovations began in October.
Currently, the program is taking place in two different spots, at Rock Springs High school and the apartments owned by the District located across the street from the High School.
On Monday night, Kayci Arnoldi, Tony Legerski and Lisa Bunning spoke to the board about the importance of moving these programs to the old building. They explained the apartments they are using are not ADA accessible. Because of this and the fact Legerski said has a student in a wheelchair, they are also using Rock Springs High School.
The transition team said by moving into Lowell it will be handicap accessible, more room that is conducive to learning, a smoother transition within programs and it will give students the ability to explore vocational skills, independent living skills, integrated work experiences and career skills that lead to gainful employment.
Another important reason the team brought up to the board was it would allow room for parents, the community and business partnerships to become more involved. Bunning spoke passionately about how moving to the new site will give parents the ability to become more involved. She said the move will give them a chance to provide information on ongoing training to parents and families.
As the district grew, the overall plan was to put the transition programs in the -proposed new satellite high school but due to declining state budgets, the funding for the new building was cut. Building and Ground Director Dan Selleroli gave a brief history of the building and spoke about the cost and the plan for Lowell.
The first step is to tear down the 1922 portion of the building. Selleroli said he hopes to place the corner stone in the new entrance and keep a portion of the history of the building. From there, the plan is to expand the educational program over the next four to five years which includes renovating the second floor.
“We want to honor the past with a repurposed facility that can prepare our students for the future,” he said.
As for the cost, both the team and Selleroli stressed it was not going to cost the district any money. Selleroli said with the building of Black Butte, there was money included for the demolition of Lowell. The major maintenance dollars, which also comes from the state, will be used for the renovation.
Arnoldi explained the expansion of the programs, the furniture, and other opportunities will be funding from grants.
Before the vote, board member Neil Kourbelas commended the team for all their work in the transition program. He said making the move to Lowell was a “no-brainer” and spoke in support of the project.
Board member Carol Jelaco said Lowell was one of the first schools she taught in and was encouraged to see the building continue to be used in the district.
Board member Stephanie Thompson thanked the school administration and Selleroli for providing a tour for the board members to give them a better understanding of what the plans for the building are.S