Life after school
Program helps students learn skills, prepare for careers
By Ben Rodgers
One committee got a first-hand look and later an in-depth explanation about a new program the Manawa School District hopes to launch.
At its Wednesday, July 26 meeting, the Buildings and Grounds Committee spent part of its time at 407 S. Bridge St.
“If I could have dreamt up the type of space that would work, this would be it,” said Danni Brauer, director of special education and curriculum for Manawa schools.
The district would like to start a Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES). The downtown location would serve as the PAES lab, or hub for the program.
Brauer’s department has the goal to ensure that 100 percent of students leave with either a full-time, competitive paying job or a post-secondary education path.
The PAES lab would be for those students with individualized learning plans, meaning those with a variety of disabilities that affect learning.
“The kids I’m talking about are some of the hardest to employ,” Brauer said.
The downtown location would provide an atmosphere free of distractions like bells, so students who participate can focus on life after school.
“We have a very needy population of kids who need this training and we have some that just aren’t motivated,” Brauer said.
It would also provide a location where those same students could get hands-on experience at various downtown businesses.
“These are the kind of programs they need to get them to buy into the reason,” she said.
The PAES program focuses in the following job areas: constructional/industrial, consumer/service. business/marketing, computer technology and processing/production.
There are different jobs in each area that get progressively harder as the student would advance through them.
The goal of PAES career and life-skills training is to give these students a path after high school.
“The movement is that all members of the community are included with each other,” said Dr. Melanie Oppor, district administrator. “You don’t separate people with special needs from the rest of the population.”
The PAES lab would be only the third in Wisconsin, with an established program in New Galrus and a new one starting in Eau Claire.
“There isn’t anything in middle Wisconsin like this,” Oppor said. “We’re doing it first and we’re going to do it extremely well.”
The building at 407 S. Bridge St. is owned by Manawa Lodge 82, the local chapter of Free and Accepted Masons.
According to Tom Squires, treasurer of the lodge, the rent could be between $600 and $800 a month.
The district would lease the space year round for at least three years, as expensive equipment would be moved in, which would be difficult to relocate.
The property still requires a building inspection and may need an additional bathroom and central air, which could add to the rental cost.
More specific details about how the district finances programs, like the PAES lab, will be discussed at a community stakeholder meeting at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 1, in the Manawa Elementary School library. The public is welcome to attend.
In other news:
• The committee learned about two new purchases: $3383 for a new paint striper that can used on athletic fields and the parking lot, and $5,108 for two 15-by-150 foot sideline mats for the football field.
• The committee was informed that it was $28,044 over last year’s set budget, mostly due to snow removal costs.