Illini West sets community meetings on building bond referendum

Posted: Mar. 4, 2013 10:23 am Updated: Mar. 25, 2013 1:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

CARTHAGE, Ill. -- Amy Graham is hard at work again spreading the word about the Illini West building bond referendum.

Separate efforts in Carthage, Dallas City and LaHarpe are designed to help voters make an informed decision April 9 on the district's second try to fund a new high school.

Next up is three community meetings, kicking off this week, to highlight the district's plans for its first building.

Meetings will be held:

º Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Illini West High School gym in Carthage.

º Monday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the LaHarpe Elementary School gym in LaHarpe.

º Wednesday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the Dallas City Elementary School gym in Dallas City.

Klingner and Associates, the Quincy architectural firm hired by Illini West, will present the rendering for the school's front elevation, floor plan and site plan. Specific information on safety and security features will be highlighted. Graham said local law enforcement, firefighters and emergency personnel have been invited to the Thursday presentation to highlight those features.

Voters in November rejected a $9 million referendum, the local share for a $27 million high school, with the state paying 68 percent of the cost. This time, the district is seeking $8 million toward a slightly scaled-back $26 million project, with the state still paying 68 percent of the cost.

"We're still going to maximize the amount of state funding we would receive," Superintendent Kim Schilson said.

The $1 million trimmed from the project covered items not eligible for state funding. Items cut included lights for the baseball/softball field and cutting some parking but "nothing educational. The facility stays the same," Schilson said.

The first referendum would have cost taxpayers 52 cents per $100 in assessed value. The April 9 referendum will cost 47 cents per $100 in assessed value.

"We did a lot of work last fall getting the facts out with our newsletter, fliers, informational meetings, building tours," said Graham, who heads a steering committee for the Carthage area. "Right now our concentrated effort is talking to people one on one. We know if each community concentrates on its own community, we'll be able to reach more people."

Darrell Kraft, one of three people heading the LaHarpe effort, sees the proposed high school as a big benefit to the communities.

"We will answer all the questions we can, present a positive attitude and personality and hope it's contagious," Kraft said.