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updated: 10/28/2011 5:10 PM

Dist. 120 officials still interested in state construction grant

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  • Mundelein High School Superintendent Jody Ware

      Mundelein High School Superintendent Jody Ware

 
 

Mundelein High School officials have no immediate plans to build a two-story addition that was proposed in 2008 as part of a facility study.

However, that's not to say the 16 extra classrooms -- which could cost $20 million -- won't be built someday.

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And if they are constructed, administrators would like to get whatever state financial assistance might be available for such a project.

With that optimism in mind, the District 120 board will hold a special meeting Tuesday, Nov. 1., to consider a resolution that would maintain the high school's spot on an eight-year-old state funding list.

Superintendent Jody Ware isn't counting on getting any construction money from the notoriously cash-strapped state. Mundelein High's plan is ranked 73rd now, she said.

But Ware doesn't want the school to lose its spot on the list in case money starts flowing.

The grant wouldn't be chump change. It would fund 35 percent of the project, Ware said -- roughly $7 million.

"We have no intention at this time to expand the building," Ware said in an email. "But, it is also difficult to pass up having 35 percent of a construction project paid for by the state of Illinois."

Mundelein High was among the facilities that lined up for state funding as part of a 2003 construction program. The school has yet to receive money from the effort.

This summer, officials updated the 2003 request to include the two-story addition and other elements of the 2008 facility study, which was compiled by a volunteer community group on behalf of the board, Ware said. An estimated $82 million in improvements were recommended.

Some of the proposals -- such as bathroom and roof repairs and the addition of artificial turf to the school stadium -- were wrapped into the $10 million construction proposal voters approved this past spring. The rest were put on hold.

The classroom expansion, which would add more space for the more than 2,200 students who attend Mundelein High, was among the concepts that didn't make the cut.

Earlier this month, the state's capital development board told Mundelein High officials state money is being freed up for some of the 2003-era requests, Ware said.

If the state grant comes through for Mundelein, the district would be on the hook for the remaining $13 million needed to build the addition.

To remain in the running for the funds, the board must adopt a resolution saying officials would have access to the $13 million, Ware said.

The school doesn't need to accept the money if it qualifies for the grant, Ware said. If the funding is offered, officials would ask the community for input on how to proceed, Ware said.

A survey is one option, she said.

"The board has a desire to build, but realizes that this is not the time to raise tax rates without more information from the community," Ware said. "We will keep the place-holder thinking, and pass the resolution."

The high school building last was expanded in 1997. A new library and additional classrooms were among the improvements in the $12.5 million, voter-approved project.

Tuesday's meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the high school, 1350 W. Hawley St. The proposed resolution is the only item up for discussion.

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