School district cashes-in on coal

School district cashes-in on coal
By: Arnold Wyrick
JOHNSTON CITY, Il. - When it comes to meeting students needs, school districts must access whatever funding sources they can find.  In most instances that means tapping taxpayers, state and or federal grant programs.
But the Johnston City School District has found an unusual source of revenue that runs deep in their district.  They're worked out a deal to trade mineral rights under abandoned property owned by the district, to Steelhead Development Incorporated.
In return the coal company is paying the district $500 an acre for the mineral rights, and making donations over the next 5 years of $7,000 an acre.
"They're going to provide a lot of jobs in this area.  They haven't even begun production yet, and for the past year and a half they've built a relationship with the school district, especially Lincoln Elementary School, " says Vice-Principal Ross Babington of Johnston City High School.
It's a relationship that the young students are already cashing in on, in the form of a new library, and computer lab.
"Prior to that the children had to work on one computer in the classroom.  And they didn't always have access.  Here they have access on a regular basis, and daily basis.  So they can take their tests as they take advantage of our advanced reading programs we were able to also purchase with the coal money," says Dr. Elaine Little Principal Lincoln Elementary.
As more money flows into the district from the mineral rights deal with the coal company, the district plans to upgrade all of their computers and technologies used by the students.
"Every thing is geared towards the Illinois State Achievement Test.  So everything we can do to provide our students, especially with technology and new reading materials it'll just enhance their abilities.  And it helps our test scores," Babington said.