Naperville School District 203’s Connections program continues to grow   

Exterior image of D203 Administration Building
Donate Today

In the upcoming school year, Connections, Naperville School District 203’s transitional program for high school students, is expected to more than double its enrollment size in a six-year snapshot of time, based on recently released information from administrators.

The service, which is designed to help specific high schoolers segue into young adulthood with uniquely tailored courses and program offerings, had 43 enrollees in the 2017-2018 school year.

In the upcoming 2023-24 school year, nearly 100 students are expected to be a part of Connections, with additional participation beyond that pivotal round number anticipated in the 2024-25 school year and beyond.

Learning, program space at a premium

All facets of the Connections program are currently housed out of a facility in Naperville located at 708 W. 5th Ave. Student growth, however, means existing space has been at a premium.

“We currently utilize every piece of that building for multiple functions,” Superintendent Dan Bridges said.

The growth in student participation also has resulted in structural modifications to the program in recent years to ensure all participants’ core needs are met.

“We’ve had to make some programmatic shifts and change some of the things that we (previously) were able to do,” Bridges said.

A short-term solution to the space needs

District 203’s board of education recently approved a three-year agreement to lease out 6,471 square of space at a complex located at 1832 Centre Point Circle to house some aspects of the Connections program.

According to terms of the agreement, the space will be used for some of the program’s behind-the-scenes functions, such as a print shop and general office use, so space at the 5th Avenue facility is freed up for the additional enrollees.

The initial year of the new lease agreement will cost the district $6,336.19, with additional increases anticipated in subsequent years.

Further changes anticipated in upcoming years

District 203’s lease with Diehl Centre Point LLC spans three years and leaves the door open for further extensions.

But in his recent discussion with the board, Bridges said he views the current plan as a short-term scenario as officials map out a strategy for the long road ahead.

“We’re going to have to look for more of a long-term solution as well. But this is definitely a fair solution for the short period of time for us,” Bridges said.

By syncing physical space up with student enrollment, Bridges said Connections will be able to maximize the types of customized offerings it provides students as they begin their foray into adulthood.

“Hopefully, as we look at more long-term solutions, we will be able to bring some things back within that space that we are no longer able to do,” Bridges said

The board was overwhelmingly supportive of the plan in motion for Connections.

“I’m excited that we have the opportunity to serve those students at the level we are serving them,” board member Donna Wandke said.

If you have a story idea, we want to hear from you!