Neighbors got a tour of the new Evanston Township High School Day School at 1233 Hartrey Ave. that opened this week during a 2nd Ward meeting at the school Thursday evening.

ETHS Special Ed Director Lanee Walls said the school now has 14 students enrolled in a summer school program and that the target enrollment for this fall will be between 20 and 25 students. The school, she said, will have a maximum capacity of 40 students — or eight students for each of five teachers.

A classroom at the day school.

The day school will also have three paraprofessionals on staff as well as a full-time psychologist, two safety staff members, a secretary and the program’s director.

Walls says most students at the school have previously had to be sent out of district to private school programs in other communities, including Arlington Heights, Des Plaines and Hyde Park.

Lanee Walls.

Those programs typically cost ETHS $50,000 a year in tuition per student, plus additional costs for transportation, Walls said, a cost that will be dramatically reduced by offering the program in Evanston.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said students who will attend the day school previously hadn’t been able to participate in after-school sports or take advantage of the amenities at the high school

“It was such a joy on Tuesday when we opened for the first time,” Walls said, “to see students walk to school or ride their bikes here.”

She said some students in the program will also take classes at the main campus and that the hope is to be able to transition many of them back into the regular high school setting.

A message from the superintendent above the doorway from the locker area into the classrooms.

Approval of the project required a special use permit from the City Council to allow conversion of the industrial property to school use. That approval in February came amid opposition from some neighbors who claimed it was biased and discriminatory to locate the facility in their largely minority community.

Walls says that about 500 of the 3,500 students at ETHS have special education needs and that when she started at ETHS about 160 of those sutdents were sent to out-of-district programs. That’s now down to about 60 and half of those are at Park School, so they’re still in Evanston, she added.

ETHS is also in discussions with Evanston School District 65 about potentially having one classroom at the day school for junior-high-age special education students.

Related stories

ETHS Day School set to open in June (5/14/19)

Aldermen OK special ed site for ETHS (2/27/18)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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