Illini West looks at voter survey on proposed high school

Posted: Apr. 27, 2013 4:04 pm Updated: May. 11, 2013 9:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

CARTHAGE, Ill. -- The Illini West School Board is looking at taking the issue of a new high school back to the public in the form of a survey.

Board members John Huston and Beth Pence will work with Superintendent Kim Schilson to develop the survey. The full board will review it in May and decide whether and how to distribute it to district residents.

Board President Tracey Anders said survey questions likely will focus on the need for a new school, possible locations and cost.

"We need to get some feedback," Anders said.

Voters have twice rejected a building referendum for a new high school. The latest attempt, an $8 million referendum decided in the April 9 election, covered the local share for a proposed $26 million high school, with the state paying 68 percent of the cost from the school construction fund. A $9 million referendum for a $27 million high school failed in November.

The biggest questions in voters' minds seemed to be the proposed location in Carthage and the cost.

"Still very much in the forefront of our minds is ‘Is the need is still there?'," Anders said. "We've got to accomplish that. Right now we have not had very favorable results, but I'm confident one way or another we'll figure something out.

"On a lot of surveys, if you get 2 percent back, you're doing well. We need to do whatever it takes to get a lot more back than average."

Survey results could help the district chart its next step, including a third try at winning voter approval.

"We've got a little time here to decide before the next election. We want to see if we can be creative at this point, get some information from the community members," Anders said. "After two failed elections, I think we have a lot of evaluating to do."

Illini West leases its current home 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 and Carthage isn't interested in selling.