Rushville, IL – After years of planning, the Schuyler-Industry school district has acquired about ten acres of farm land near Rushville-Industry High School. It paid about $13,000 per acre, which has been budgeted for the past two years.
Superintendent Mathew Plater says the land could eventually play a role in constructing a large new elementary school. The district would then consolidate and close its existing elementary schools.
But Plater says that plan is still at least a few years away, and it's not clear whether it would happen at all. For now, he says the land will provide some much needed green space.
"We're currently very crowded, and we have very little green," says Plater. "The city of Rushville has very little green space for practice as well. So our schools, all of our schools facilities end up being locations for little league practice and soccer practice."
The proposal wasn't without its challengers. Board member Chris Trone said the district was not required to spend this money, even though it was budgeted. He wondered if buying "legally landlocked" property was the best use of resources with possible staff and program cuts on the horizon.
Plater says there is, indeed, one more year left on the farmer's lease. But he says the district will approach the owners shortly to see if they'd be willing to forgo the final year of their lease.
Concerns were also raised that this was a rushed decision. Therefore, the soil, which is right next to a chemical plant, had not been tested.
But Plater reiterated that the land was used for farming. He says if it's good enough to grow crops, it's good enough to grow grass.
Plater says the district will need to use farm equipment to shape the property and get rid of some corn stalks that may still be in the way.