PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Regional Learning Center has a new home at the Franciscan Recreation Complex on North Sterling Avenue in West Peoria.

The Center is an alternative high school for current District 150 students struggling with academics, attendance or mental health. It offers smaller classes and specialized curriculum tailored to students’ needs.

“There are a lot of challenges in high school today and kids need other options,” said Beth Crider, regional superintendent of Peoria County Regional Office of Education #48. “We are an option that says, for whatever reason that it didn’t work out, you belong here.”

The Peoria Regional Learning Center had been at the Wildlife Prairie Park in Hanna City since 2011. Crider said transportation was a big issue for students, so when the opportunity at the Franciscan Recreation Complex opened up, she said it was the right move.

“Our number one challenge for our students is transportation, and we needed to move closer to the city center,” she said. We’re on a bus line, we’re in a community where there are job opportunities. We are in a park district facility, where our students can be recruited for all of their job opportunities, and we have access to other community agencies that are willing to partner with us to give students additional support to help them be successful.”

The school has four teachers and student support specialist who can accommodate up to 65 high school students. Graduates receive a diploma from their original high school, not a GED.

“We want to give them another chance to get that high school diploma,” said Crider. “We have students that have gone on to the military, we have students who go on to college. Some go straight into the workforce.”

Renovations were completed during Christmas break and the first classes began in early January. Crider said they are hoping to increase capacity and enroll more students for the fall semester.

The Peoria Regional Learning Center is hosting an open house on March 1 from 2 to 6 pm to showcase the renovations and learn more about the program.