Camelot is Preparing to Open its Seventh Therapeutic Day School in Suburban Chicago
Kishwaukee’s switch to therapeutic school cooking awhile
Steps to bring in the day program were taken within days of Belvidere School Board OKing the closing.
BELVIDERE — It wasn’t long after Belvidere School District administrators decided to close Kishwaukee Elementary School that they were looking for a new tenant.
How long? Less than 48 hours.
Emails show that Sheri Smith, assistant superintendent of student services, reached out after the board’s decision in March to Camelot Therapeutic Schools with a “very unique request for consideration” — asking whether the group would consider leasing the school so 30 special-needs students in the district could attend a day program closer to home.
Camelot had indicated years ago that it was interested in setting up shop in the area. Unbeknownst to the public, the agencies spent months in communication, determining whether the facility was a good fit.
Therapeutic day programs “have to be approved by state,” Smith said. “We have to make sure we can notify families, (and we like) to provide a 30-day notice to the facility that we would no longer be utilizing.”
According to the agreement signed in June, Camelot will lease the Garden Prairie facility from Aug. 1 to July 31, 2015, for an annual base rent of $150,000 a year. If Camelot wants to renew the lease, it will cost $312,500 the third year, $350,000 the fourth and $350,000 the fifth.
The contract allows the School District to begin using the building again if enrollment picks up. In the meantime, Camelot will also pay for electric, gas, utilities and maintenance.
That means closing Kishwaukee will save the School District almost $500,000 a year. The district will generate an additional $150,000 during the first two years of the contract by leasing the facility.
Camelot spokesman Kirk Dorn said the decision would allow 100 to 110 students with special needs to attend the school. Such children typically are autistic or developmentally disabled.
Up to now, these children have traveled great distances — sometimes 45 minutes each way — to attend a therapeutic day program. Parents of potential students have been notified of the new opportunity and will be able to tour the facility in August.
“This was just a great match,” Dorn said. “Camelot likes to help as many students as we can and we saw a need in the area.”