PHotos by Carolina Menapace

District 99 students, educators, and community members celebrated the expansion of the Transition 99 Center (4232 Venard Road) at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 23. Construction began in the spring in order to provide space to accommodate the Transition 99 Program’s growing enrollment of students ages 18-22 who receive special education services.

District 99 Director of Special Services Lisa Bollow further explained the need for the expansion. “Within the District 99 Transition Program, we’re teaching life skills, not just subjects,” she said. “A lot is happening in this building every day, all day, and we need spaces to accommodate that.”

The expansion and renovation added 6,000 square feet to the building, including two new classrooms, a large gross motor and sensory room, and a multi-purpose area/kitchen with pantry.

Two student single-use bathrooms (one wheelchair-accessible with an adult-sized changing table) and one staff single-use bathroom were also part of the construction, along with offices for the program’s social worker, psychologist, and occupational, physical, and speech/language therapists.

The previous social work office space was repurposed to accommodate a new District 99 Outplacement Coordinator, and an administrative office was added to allow Bollow to be on site daily.

A main office with a secure vestibule entrance, dedicated staff break room, and outdoor basketball hoops and picnic tables were also added. The building’s exterior was redesigned and updated, and a large overhang was built to increase the efficiency of bus loading and unloading.


A new parking lot affords all staff onsite parking. Previously, Transition 99 employees relied on overflow parking at the nearby Omega Restaurant. “Big shout-out of thanks and major kudos to the Omega and its owner, Telly Andrianopoulos,” Bollow said. “The District repaved the Omega’s parking lot as a small thank you for accommodating us all those years.”

The recent Transition 99 Center expansion followed a 2021 one through which the District “built out 2,500 square feet of unused warehouse space at the back of the building” to increase instructional and therapeutic space, Bollow said.

The District 99 Transition Program originated in 1998, initially operating out of a rented space in Westmont before moving into the District’s high school buildings in 2012.

“Knowing the program was going to grow, and needing the space in the buildings for our student in grades 9-12, the District saw a need for expansion, but this time to purchase a building to house the Transition 99 Program,” Bollow said. The District procured the current Transition 99 building, and students began attending in fall 2013.

Today, Transition 99 serves approximately 70 young adults with special needs, providing not only life skills education but also vocational training, competitive job placement, and other transition supports for students and their families.

“Our goal is to make [the students] as independent as possible for life after school ends,” said Transition 99 Coordinator Carolina Schoenbeck. “When the students leave District 99, we don’t want them at home isolated; we want them in the community.”

“Our goal is to make [the students] as independent as possible for life after school ends.”

-Carolina Schoenbeck, Transition 99 Coordinator

To prepare them to navigate and contribute within the community, Transition 99 students participate in grocery shopping trips, visits to the public library, and other outings to destinations like Lost Mountain Adventure Golf.

Transition 99 also partners with local businesses and organizations to provide job training and/or competitive employment opportunities for students. Additionally, Transition 99 employs job coaches to support students’ development of specific vocational skills and to teach them “to do the job to the satisfaction of the employer,” Bollow said.

“We’re always looking for vocational partners,” added Jill Browning, District 99 Chief Communications Officer, highlighting the “value and reward employers find in the experience.”

While many Transition 99 students work in the community, others assist with T99Works, the Transition Program’s in-house document shredding and dog treat microbusinesses.

To become a vocational partner or learn more about Transition 99’s microbusinesses or other programs, visit

The Transition 99 Center held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house in late October to celebrate the 6,000-square-foot addition and renovation to the facility. Photo courtesy of District 99