By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
CARTHAGE, Ill. -- The Illini West School Board has approved a change in a contract tied to the site of a proposed new building.
Board members this week approved an addendum which "will allow us to purchase between 24 and 40 acres," Board President Tracey Anders said.
The board 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 proposed new building, the first for the district. 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 when the sale is finalized.
After voters in November rejected a $9 million referendum for a $27 million new building, the district scaled back the project slightly with an $8 million referendum for a $26 million building on the April 9 ballot. The state will pay 68 percent of the building cost from the school construction fund.
In trimming potential project costs, the district looked at items the state funds would not cover -- and at reducing the size of the building site.
Anders said the state supports 24 acres for the building site.
Any additional acreage would be funded locally, but Anders said there's a possibility the board will pursue more than 24 acres for the new school.
"In our meetings we had here recently, we were looking at 30 acres. The idea was to allow for some expansion," Anders said. "The variable, I guess, would be the cost of construction, what the bids come in at. If they come in way under (budget), that will give you a lot of latitude."
The site stood out because of its available space, its proximity to the city limits, easy access and utility infrastructure -- a key selling point to avoid spending an additional $450,000 on infrastructure and $30,000 a year to maintain a sanitary treatment facility.
If voters approve the referendum, Anders said the flexible size of the building site will be an advantage as the project moves forward.
"We'll know a lot more as the state money becomes available, and we get ours," Anders said. "One thing hasn't changed. We need a new building."
Illini West leases its building from the Carthage elementary district and leases six temporary buildings to provide additional classroom space. District officials say the building needs major renovations and additions, but Illini West doesn't own the building.