South Central Officials to Consider State Grant for School Construction

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Published on August 23 2013 2:58 pm
Last Updated on August 23 2013 3:08 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Often a day late and always a dollar short, the State's announcement Thursday of funds to help with a construction project in the South Central school district is being met with a mixed reaction by school officials.

Governor Pat Quinn's announcement of $10,200,550 for construction work at both South Central High School and South Central Elementary School is to be accompanied by a local share contribution of $3.9 million.  South Central Superintendent Rick Batchelor said he's not sure the District wants to proceed with the construction project as envisioned.

The plan calls for construction of an eight-classroom addition to South Central Elementary School in Kinmundy with a total design and home room capacity of 244 students in Grades Pre-K to 5, along with construction of an eight-classroom addition to South Central High School with a total design capacity for 252 students and a home room capacity for 192 students in Grades 9-12, along with renovation of the 1944 section of the existing high school, located in Farina.

Batchelor said he and the school board have a lot to consider. 

The construction plan was on the State's capital development list in 2003.  When asked if they would proceed with the project, Batchelor Friday said, "That was the plan three years ago.  If it was three years ago, we would have done it."

Now, Batchelor said, "We have some serious soul-searching to do."

One consideration is the uncertainty that even if the State says the money is coming, that the money will ever be received.

Another is the local share match, although Batchelor said the district has the bonding ability to generate the local funds needed.

A third consideration is whether the project is needed.  Batchelor said some is, some isn't.  He said, "We don't need the rooms at the high school, but we do need the rooms at the grade school."  The district would like to add the rooms at the elementary building as well as a small gym.  Batchelor said rainy days make it difficult to do anything outside the classrooms at the elementary school.

As for the high school building, Batchelor said it doesn't have a cafeteria and they'd like to build one.  He said the district was told, though, that the cafeteria would have to be accompanied by an eight-classroom addition for the project to be approved.

Batchelor said he is to meet with the district architect Friday afternoon to review their options.

The Governor's office announcement today also allocated just shy of $20 million for construction of a two-story, 41-classroom school in Wayne City along with demolition of the 1930 and 1938 portions of the existing school.  The Wayne City district would have to contribute $6.6 million toward the project.

Also included in the Thursday announcement was $22.5 million for a one-story, 57-classroom school accommodating 1,600 students in Grades Pre-K to 5 in Flora.