The Mascoutah school district plans to ask voters for permission to build a new elementary school.
According to District 19 leaders, the school system is has surpassed capacity at the elementary level and desperately needs the space, so a referendum will be placed on the April 9 ballot to ask voters for their blessing to expand.
According to district Superintendent Craig Fiegel, a new school was supposed to be built in Shiloh near the planned Wingate subdivision. But the school was put on hold when the economy slowed.
Shiloh approved a tax increment finance district that included the new subdivision, which was supposed to provide $13.5 million for the new school. But Fiegel said District 19 can no longer wait to add more space.
Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier said that while the commercial property at the front of Wingate hasn't moved as quickly as developers had hoped, construction of the residential portion is starting to warm up.
"We're very pleased to hear that the Mascoutah school district plans to move ahead with the school," Vernier said. "The residential portion of the project is moving forward. You might not be able to see it from the main road, but I think there's work going on there with about six houses. And hopefully something will start to happen with the commercial side soon."
School leaders have not said how the school will be paid for, and the referendum does not ask for a bond issue or other money for the project to be approved. But districts are required by state law to get voters' permission to build a new school.
According to school leaders, District 19 has more than $20 million in cash reserves which it could dip into to pay for construction, with hopes that the Shiloh money would eventually come in to replenish it. In 2008, District 19 voters approved a bond issue to pay for the community's new high school.
No firm timetable is set for construction. But, according to Fiegel, district leaders felt that they needed to move quickly because the next chance they would have to ask voters for permission to start construction would be more than a year away, in spring 2014.
According to District 19 leaders, Mascoutah Elementary School has a functional capacity of 862 elementary students. But it currently has 1,015 enrolled and the student population is expected to continue to grow.
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2626.