Two schools -- old and falling down -- get help from state

News-DemocratNovember 7, 2013 

— The Illinois Senate approved two measures Wednesday that would allow two local school districts -- in Lebanon and Chester -- to carry out their building projects.

House Bill 1002 would allow the Lebanon school district to continue raising funds for a new school building. Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, sponsored the bill, which now goes to the House.

"While the current school building has served the community well for 80 years, it is in dire need of replacement," Clayborne said. "This gives the school district the ability to continue raising money for a new building that voters have already approved."

The bill would extend the school district's debt limit, allowing the district to continue issuing bonds and collecting the $7.5 million that residents voted to raise in a referendum in 2010.

Clayborne said the district plans to spend about $3.5 million to build a school.

The other measure approved by the Senate would allow Chester's school district to opt out of a state mandate that has delayed construction on the $5.8 million elementary school project. The mandate involved a federal "green building" rating system for school construction grants.

Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, said the district has a hillside school building that is collapsing.

"The hill is sliding away, under their school," Luechtefeld told committee members. "It's really something they have to do, right away."

Luechtefeld said the measure is a "simple fix that will allow the construction to hopefully progress at a much quicker pace and thus enable Chester to take advantage of the (state's) financial assistance and place fewer burdens on local taxpayers."

The Chester measure is part of an amendment to Senate Bill 1595. It already has been approved by the House, and now goes to the governor.

Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at bbrueggemann@bnd.com or 239-2511.

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