Marion high school renovations could be put on hold

Marion school affected by lack of state budget

MARION, IL (KFVS) - Additions to the high school in Marion, Illinois have fallen victim to the budget stalemate in Springfield.

District superintendent Keith Oates said almost half of the cost of the $68-million price tag on the additions to Marion High school consist of state dollars being withheld during the impasse.

The school board will decide in February whether or not to take out a $7-million private loan to pick up the slack left on the state's end of the deal.

Oates said the district doesn't have revenue to cover the state's end for much longer, and unless something is done the project will be put on hold.

"To stop now would not make sense, just because of the late stage." Oates said. "To call off those workers and plans, it would be far more expensive to stop and restart the project at a later time."

The loan, and any payments would be funded through property tax revenue the school board already receives until the state passes a budget.

Some teachers are sharing other areas of the old building while new classrooms, and facilities are being built, and Oates said forgoing payment could drag the situation on much longer.

"You're always more willing to be moved to a temporary location if you know that something better is on the way." Childhood Education Director Rani Walker-Gross said. "We just don't have access to all of the equipment that we need, so hopefully things don't get delayed."

Oates said the original contract dictates construction must be complete within five years, or the school board could lose eligibility to state funds altogether.

The school board will vote on the matter on Feb. 16.

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