Administrators and board members from six schools converged Thursday for the formal ribbon cutting ceremony in the newly converted Lincoln Way Area Special Education District 843 space at Oster-Oakview Elementary School.
Michael Sass, superintendent for New Lenox School District 122, took a moment to laud the cooperation on the part of all associated school districts from Mokena, Manhattan, Frankfort, Frankfort Square and Lincoln-Way High School District 210 as they came together in support of the New Lenox-based project.
A $1.6 million summer project turned the unused basement of Oster-Oakview Elementary School into an 8,000-square-foot space that's perfect for 1st-6th graders from LWASED. The new space currently accommodates 30 youngsters with behavioral disorders, but its enrollment is expected to grow, said Sally Bintz, LWASED executive director.
At the ceremony, she thanked New Lenox School District 122, especially Sass, for leading the charge in gaining the special education district the additional space it needed. The move to the new building, which features five classrooms and additional space for individual special needs assistance, is a real opportunity for the students for several reasons.
- It reduces travel time for many of the students.
- It uses existing space.
- It brings together the students and provides space for a psychologist, social worker and more along with teachers, paraprofessionals and teachers.
- It gives LWASED students the chance to integrate into the general education environment.
The project evolved out of what Bintz referred to as a "cell project" with only three students at the Spencer Trail Campus. As enrollment grew, space got to be an issue and staff was split up between Spencer Pointe for 1st-3rd graders and Spencer Crossing for 4th-6th graders.
At Oster-Oakview, the students and school staff are all together.
In total, LWASED provides services for about 3,000 students in the 100-square miles of the Lincoln-Way region. A total of 500 students are bused to a variety of schools for the regular school day or specialized services.
Deb Kedzior, NLSD 122 board member and representative on the LWASED board, said the fact that the students can integrate easier into the general education program is what attracted her to the project.
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