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School Board Approves Real Estate Purchase for Life Skills Transition Program

The West Chester Area School District (WCASD) board of directors has approved the purchase of a building located across the street from Henderson High School that will help prepare students with special needs for the post-high school world.

The West Chester Transition Living Program will provide Life Skills students with transition services such as job coaching and travel training.

The building, located at 402 North Penn Street, will be set up as a fully- furnished apartment where students can practice daily living skills like budgeting, cooking, cleaning, and laundry.

Currently, Life Skills students enrolled in the WCASD between the ages of 18-21, receive various transition services through the Chester County Intermediate Unit.  The district will continue to contract with the CCIU for some services needed to run the program, but a WCASD teacher and paraprofessional will staff it. The district will contract with Pediatric Therapeutic Services for occupational and physical therapists.

"This program meets the needs of our students with cognitive disabilities in a real-life setting. The location provides easy access to many businesses in West Chester Borough where the students work," said Dr. Leigh Ann Ranieri, WCASD director of pupil services.

"This program helps our Life Skills students to become successful, independent adults when they leave us."

For the 2018-19 school year, the total cost paid to the CCIU for their services was nearly $614,000 for 14 students. Superintendent Jim Scanlon said the total cost for the district to run the program would be $485,929.

"The program will pay for itself in two-and-a-half years," said Scanlon.

School board members view the purchase of the property and the program as a benefit to both students and taxpayers.

"The board is always looking for ways to improve our services for all of our students, all while reducing costs where we can," said Chris McCune, school board president.

The property was on the market for $397,000. The district entered into an agreement of sale on December 12 for $360,000.