Illini West closer to deciding on second referendum attempt

Posted: Dec. 6, 2012 7:13 pm Updated: Dec. 27, 2012 10:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

CARTHAGE, Ill. -- The Illini West School Board is closer to making a decision on a second attempt for a building bond referendum.

A special meeting Wednesday night was "very productive," Board President Tracey Anders said.

"I'm confident the board members got all the information they needed to be able to decide if they want to put it back on the ballot at the next meeting."

The board meets again Wednesday, Dec. 19.

Anders said board members met with Mike Carter with Klingner and Associates, the Quincy firm working with the district on the proposed new high school.

"We had asked him a lot of questions," Anders said.

In November, voters rejected a referendum to issue up to $9 million in school building bonds, the district's share of the cost for a proposed $27 million high school.

The state will pay 68 percent of the project cost for the first building for the converged district.

Supporters had pushed the referendum as the best solution for the district, which now has classrooms not well-suited for today's students and technology, and a building Illini West doesn't own that will need major renovations and additions.

Bonds would not have been sold until the state was able to commit funds for the project, but if the district doesn't pass a referendum before the state money becomes available, Illini West will not receive the money and will be moved to the next year on the list of projects to be funded.

Board members in July agreed to buy 40 acres owned by Terry Junk just east of the football field and current high school parking lot for the new school. The contract with Junk gives the district an option to buy the site within five years, with the price per acre based on market value at the time the sale is finalized.

The board this week reviewed election results showing the referendum had support from some 37 percent of voters.

"You're asking people to spend a lot of money in these tough economic times. That's a lot of yes votes, a lot of people committed to the students of Illini West," Anders said. "That's what it's about. It's not about the administration, the board or anything else. It's all about the kids and making sure the staff and students have a good learning environment."