This article was originally published in March of 2011, but has been updated to include current information as of July 8, 2011.
Beginning June 30 we have conducted Community Forums to collect feedback from community members regarding a design for a potential High School Construction project. Those meetings have been facilitated by BLDD Architects who was selected by the Board of Education in June to lead this project.
Any potential High School Construction project is reliant upon approval from the State of Illinois through the School Construction Grant Program, and receipt of those funds upon such approval. The School Construction Grant Program has been run through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) since the 1990's. The ISBE works with the Capital Development Board (CDB) to process grant applications and prioritize projects that have been approved. Back in the Spring of 2002, previous Superintendent Dr. James Wenstrom and the Board of Education approved a School Construction Grant to build a new High School. That approved application has been on file with ISBE and the CDB ever since. After being approved, the grant was "entitled", meaning the ISBE and CDB determined that we would receive a maximum of 64% of the cost of a High School project.
The School Construction Grant Program receives funding from the State of Illinois as they are appropriated through the annual budget. The list of approved grants is lengthy and because funding is available on a limited basis, it typically takes 8-10 years for an approved grant to actually receive any funding. The grant submitted back in 2002 has finally "risen to the top" of the priority list and is in line to be funded when funding is appropriated.
Part of our responsibility to receive funding is to identify how we will fund our "local share" for the project. In our case, I have recommended to the Board of Education that we utilize revenue from the County Facility Sales Tax which was approved by voters in November 2010. In other words, every effort should be made to identify a project that will not increase the tax burden on any property owner in our School District. The Board of Education is in agreement with this, and knows that living within these limits will likely cause us to consider a large addition to the existing High School instead of an entirely new High School because of limitations on our local share.
The Community Meetings that have occurred have allowed us to shift our focus from considering whether or not to renovate the High School or to proceed with an addition, to focusing on an addition. On July 6, BLDD presented three options for such an addition and on July 13 they will present two more revised options for members of the community to vote on. Whichever option receives more votes will be presented to the Board of Education on July 18 for their consideration. On July 19, the State of Illinois will conduct a site visit to review the design and examine the proposed site of the construction. After their visit, we will anxiously await their approval for the project. If approved, we will continue to wait until the grant is funded before proceeding.
We are indebted to the work of Dr. Wenstrom and the Board of Education from March of 2002 for having the foresight to make the grant application. Please contact me by phone at the District Office at 289-2328 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further questions.
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