Community High School District 155 Board to vote on moving Haber Oaks to Crystal Lake South

South would need about $700,000 in renovations

Community High School District 155 Board member Ron Ludwig listens to a speaker at a meeting Monday. Ludwig said staff at Crystal Lake South High School would be beneficial to a potential move of Haber Oaks Campus students.[]

CRYSTAL LAKE – Community High School District 155 officials are likely to spend about $700,000 to renovate a portion of Crystal Lake South High School this summer.

The district’s plan is to move the programming of Haber Oaks Campus into the first floor of South and close the alternative school on Haber Road in Cary.

The board is expected to formally vote on the matter at its next meeting, set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Crystal Lake Central High School, 45 W. Franklin Ave.

District officials recently met with parents of South students and parents of students at Haber Oaks to talk about the proposal.

Board President Adam Guss said the meeting with South parents started out “rough,” while the meeting with Haber Oaks parents started well before frustration among parents grew throughout the meeting.

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.

All of that will be transferred into South if approved by the board. Board member Ron Ludwig described the plan for Haber Oaks students at South as a “school within a school.”

The district’s feasibility study showed that the South campus has enough available space to house special education programming as officials reorganize operations amid declining enrollment.

Ludwig said parents at the meetings were concerned about the cost of the project, and there also were some misconceptions from South parents, who thought the 90-plus kids who attend Haber Oaks are troublemakers.

Rachael Lawrence, who has a son attending Haber Oaks, said going there for the past year and a half has been the best thing to happen to him.

“They’re not special ed kids there at Haber Oaks – they’re just kids,” Lawrence said.

Ludwig noted that seven people on staff at South, including Principal Josh Nobilio, previously worked at Haber Oaks.

“They get Haber,” Ludwig said of the staff at South.

Ludwig said there are limitations at Haber Oaks, such as the lack of a room large enough to have a guest speaker in front of all 96 students at once. There also isn’t a gymnasium. Officials expect to have a gym for Haber Oaks students to use at South.

District 155 bought Haber Oaks Campus, a former Cary School District 26 administrative building, for about
$1.3 million in 2007. District 155 then paid about $800,000 to gut and renovate it, according to records.

Before using Haber Oaks, alternative education students went to classes in the basement of the District 155 Center for Education administrative building on Virginia Road.

District 155 director of operations Jeff Daurer said the 3-acre Haber Oaks Campus recently was professionally appraised at a little more than
$1 million.