WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Galesburg School Board Approves Facilities Plan

Galesburg, IL – The Galesburg school district's 20 year, $110 million dollar facility improvement plan has officially been approved. A divided school board approved the plan four to three at its meeting this week.

The money would go toward major renovations and construction projects at all buildings district wide. After accrued interest on bond issues, the district could end up paying about $166 million over the next 20 years -- according to current estimates.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Guy Cahill says about 40 percent of the 110 million dollars will be spent on life safety, energy efficiency and security upgrades.

He says that portion of the plan could cost around $70 million over the next 20 years. That's why a one percent county-wide sales tax hike, which will be on the November ballot, is so important.

Cahill says the state will probably mandate such improvements be made, so that money has to come from somewhere.

"We would issue traditional life safety bonds," says Cahill. "What we're trying to avoid, but what would naturally occur, would be the use of property tax to pay those bonds down."

Some of the money would also be used to make improvements to athletic facilities. The district wants to build a new academic/athletic building, and renovate Van Dyke field.

Cahill predicts the improvements to buildings around the district will have a cyclical affect on the local economy. He says making positive changes will attract people to move to Galesburg because of the good school system. That will, in turn, drive up home values and increase the property tax base.

He's confident the Knox County economy will turn around within the next few years. That confidence comes despite events of the past few years, in which Galesburg has experienced population decline and the loss of hundreds of manufacturing jobs.

Cahill says implementing the plan will create good paying permanent and temporary jobs.