The Illini West High School District is not giving up on the idea of building a new high school.
The Board of Education agreed to put an $8 million bond issue on the April ballot. Voters rejected a $9 million issue in November 2012, so Superintendent Kim Schilson said the board decided to pare back the request.
“One of the things we were trying to look at was trying to reduce the cost, lower the tax rate on the bond, and hopefully that will help with getting the vote through,” Schilson said.
Schilson feels the district got a late start on promoting the referendum in the fall. She said the district will do more to publicize its plan this time around. A series of community meetings will be held, though they have not yet been scheduled.
Schilson said the need for a new building should be clear to anyone familiar with the current high school.
“We have 12 portable classrooms out back,” Schilson said. “It’s not a safe environment for our students going from one building to another building continually through the day.”
Schilson also said the building has heating problems, there have been water line breaks this year, and Illini West does not own the current high school site – the district is leasing it from the Carthage Elementary School District.
The estimated price tag of the new high school is $26 million. Schilson said the state will pay 68% of the cost. She said the district won’t issue bonds until the state money is available but it’s important to have approval of the local funding so the district is prepared if/when the state is ready to do some capital spending.
“If they don’t do anything in five years then the referendum (if approved) lapses and no bonds are issued, which means no tax increase,” Schilson said.
The new high school would be built just east of the current high school parking lot. Illini West has an agreement to purchase the land if the referendum passes.