Washtenaw Intermediate School District moving Ypsilanti office to KeyBank building
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District is moving its Ypsilanti location from the Riverside Arts Center into the KeyBank building in the downtown area because of an increase of students seeking young adult services.
The district plans to use the building as classroom space for its Young Adult Special Education Services, which provides a range of services for ages 18-26.
Neal Elaykin, the special education supervisor for the district’s young adult programs, said the move was needed because the program simply outgrew the 2,400 square foot space at the arts center. The lease ended in June.
“We moved there last year and it’s a wonderful site but it has its limitations,” Elaykin said. “At that site, the front door walked right onto Huron and we began to get concern for students in case they bolted out of the door. The traffic on that road goes very rapidly so we were concerned.”
Elaykin said the WISD began looking around for another secure site.
Realtor Ed Burch called Elaykin last year to inform him that the Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce planned on moving from its location within the KeyBank building. The Chamber is moving into the SPARK East Business Incubator at 215 W. Michigan Ave.
“We set up a meeting with the chamber people and came to an agreement with Ed that we would take over the spot when they left,” Elaykin said.
The 3,360 square foot space at 301 W. Michigan Ave. is more accommodating and safe for students, Elaykin said.
“The entrance is off the parking lot which is more secure,” he said. “It’s also larger and given that more and more students are being referred, we felt we would need a larger space since the numbers are going up.”
Elaykin said minimal renovations will need to be made to the space including a new kitchen area and carpeting.
“We’re moving some of the internal walls and cubbies to make a more open space and social environment,” he said.
The space will be tailored for students with disabilities.
“Some of our students with autism or other sensory disabilities need a space that is quiet and less distracting,” he said. Riverside only had a large room with one office for a teacher and the KeyBank building offers more individual learning areas.”
The young adults program allows students to take classes and learn skills that prepare them for their next step in life and the workforce. The district has seven sites located throughout Washtenaw County.
Elaykin said he expects the move to be completed before the fall semester begins.
Between 17 and 20 students will utilize the space, along with one teacher for every classroom and three teaching assistants.
The Ypsilanti move comes a few months after the WISD announced plans to move its Dexter location to a larger space in the Dexter downtown area.
Elaykin said the district’s enrollment has been “trending higher” in the last couple of years.
“We have seen modest growth in our programs and we’re looking at needing more spaces which is why we’re evaluating all of our spaces,” he said. “We’re also having a modest increase in students not achieving diplomas When local districts are speaking to me, they’re asking us for support and we’re seeing a general increase across the board.”
Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at 734-623-2548 or at KatreaseStafford@annarbor.com. You can also follow her on Twitter.