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Article updated: 9/20/2013 8:49 PM

Possible Round Lake High School expansion focus of District 116 forum

By Bob Susnjara

Round Lake Area Unit District 116 officials will focus on a possible high school expansion in a community forum set for next week.

District 116 will host the forum for parents, staff, students and others from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Round Lake High School theater. Bill Johnston, the district's assistant superintendent of business, said the evening will feature a one-hour presentation and 30 minutes for audience questions.

"The main purpose is just to keep the community informed about what's going on," Johnston said.

As part of the district's long-range facilities plan, Johnston said, the school board approved exploring construction of an addition to include at least 33 classrooms to address crowding. He said more than 2,000 students are enrolled for 2013-14 at the high school, which has a capacity of 1,500, requiring the use of two portable buildings.

Johnston said the expansion still is in the design phase, so the forum will allow for feedback on the proposal. He said a Spanish-language interpreter will be present at the session.

In January, District 116 board members decided against placing a referendum on last spring's ballot about whether to borrow $36 million for expansion and other improvements at the high school. Officials said they had planned to seek permission to borrow the $36 million through a bond sale to investors without raising property taxes.

Johnston said the high school uses two schedules to accommodate the pupils because enrollment exceeds capacity.

After the design phase of the proposed high school expansion is completed, officials will receive a tentative cost for the project. District 116 school board members are to receive the plans in December.

Crowds topping 200 spectators showed up to the high school theater for meetings early this year when District 116 officials outlined plans to realign how education is delivered to students. Some residents who spoke at public comment time criticized the district for not offering them enough information about the plans.

Johnston said every effort is being made to communicate what's happening with the high school expansion proposal. He said more community forums are expected.

Twitter: @DHBobSusnjara

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