Crystal Lake-based School District 155 considers closing Haber Oaks Campus

Officials exploring whether to fold operations into Crystal Lake South

CRYSTAL LAKE – Parents of students who attend Crystal Lake South High School and the Haber Oaks Campus in Cary can expect to hear from Community High School District 155 in the next two weeks about a potential closure of Haber Oaks.

District 155 Interim Superintendent Steve Olson presented a timeline Thursday night to the district board’s Strategic Planning Committee leading up to a Feb. 20 vote on whether to close Haber Oaks.

The district continues to see declining annual enrollment, and leaders are considering moving Haber Oaks operations into the first floor of Crystal Lake South.

The district will call Haber Oaks parents Thursday and Friday to let them know about a Feb. 8 meeting at Crystal Lake South where district officials and Haber Oaks parents can discuss a possible closure. Crystal Lake South parents will get an email Jan. 29 about a similar meeting between the district and South parents Feb. 5 at the school.

Results of the two meetings will be shared with the board’s planning committee Feb. 13.

Olson said the board will decide Feb. 20 whether to approve a relocation to Crystal Lake South based on proposed bids from contractors. Some construction work would be required at South.

The Haber Oaks Campus was bought from Cary School District 26 and reopened in 2008 under District 155 as an alternative school campus. About 90 students go to the school, either for partial or full days.

Haber Oaks is home to District 155’s therapeutic day program, which provides a self-contained educational setting for special education students with significant emotional and/or behavioral challenges, according to the district. The campus also has a credit recovery program for students who have not progressed toward a high school diploma in the traditional comprehensive high school setting.

Although district attendance has dropped steadily over the past five years, from 6,745 during the 2013-14 school year to 6,137 this year, the board and administration want to keep the existing four high schools open. The board passed an estimated levy increase of 2.44 percent in November, and officials said “significant” levels of deferred maintenance to the tune of $50 million worth of work was one of the main reasons for the hike.

The district spent $56,750 on a feasibility study to analyze the costs and usage rates associated with the district’s Center for Education on Virginia Road in Crystal Lake, as well as Haber Oaks.

Olson said Haber Oaks students will have more opportunities for elective classes at Crystal Lake South, and there are more support services available there. Busing times for some kids might be shortened, and some could walk to the school rather than getting bused to Cary.

“We’ve made a commitment to staff, the families, the kids – to not impact staffing at all for the kids in that program next year, because there is some anxiety that comes with any change and movement of that nature,” Olson said. “We want to make sure they hit the ground running.”

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