School construction funds tied up in Springfield

School construction funds tied up in Springfield
By: Arnold Wyrick
Du Quoin, Ill. - The first students entered the Du Quoin High School back in 1955.  And for the past five years the school district has been waiting on state funds to build a new school.
And some of those early graduates agree their old school house needs to be replaced. "I went to high school there and I'm 64, that's pretty old.  So yeah I'd say they probably do need a new one," says Charles Crispin of Du Quoin.
Even some of the current students have given up hope of ever getting a new building. "Well they've been promising to build us a new high school for a long time.  And it seems like every time that they say it's going to happen, it's going to be another year, we're going to do it this summer, then it's another year," says Rachel Greenwood a junior at Du Quoin High School.
The superintendent Gary Kelly worries that the original estimates for the project of $10-million to $13-million may not be enough to get the job done these days. "We've continued to wait for five years and the cost have gone up for that, that's a big concern for us.  What funds are going to be available for those school districts that have had to wait five years, " asks Kelly.
Illinois legislators have come up with a supplemental appropriation package for school construction, but there's a catch.  Including in the package is a 15-percent pay raise for lawmakers. "Don't they have enough?  Look what they've done with our electric bills.  What ever happened to the government by the people and for the people?  It seems like ever thing goes against us," says Aleda Brown of Du Quoin.
Superintendent Kelly also questions whether or not his district will ever see any of the funds promised them, with all the other attachments to Illinois Senate Bill 241. "I think there's a lot of concern about the legislators voting to raises for themselves when there's other needs the state has.  In particular the electric rates that they continue to discuss," Kelly said.
A discussion that could push his school districts plans back even farther, possibly into the 2008 budget year.