MAHOMET, Ill. (WCIA) – The Mahomet-Seymour School District says they need a new junior high building. Right now, hallways are crowded, some teachers share classrooms, and enrollment keeps going up.
But, they’ll need to pass a referendum to build a new facility. In total, the district is asking for over $59 million. If you own a $300K house, that could cost you about $500 extra per year.
It’s not set in stone; it’ll be on the ballot next month. Superintendent Dr. Kenny Lee said he wants voters to be informed, so he invited them to an open house Wednesday night to show them what it’s like inside the building.
Every classroom at the junior high is full – even the wrestling room. Several have two classes in session at once. At lunchtime, students are spilling into the hallway.
“We just are in dire need of more space here at the junior high school,” Lee said.
The district wants to completely replace the 60-year-old building. They say it can’t keep up with increasing enrollment. So, they’re asking taxpayers for $59 million.
“We are at about a -278 students. So we have about 278 more students than what this building was built for in capacity,” Lee said.
“It’s somewhat depressing, actually to see… the facility is not a place that I would be excited to learn in,” Aaron Anderson said.
The district said it’s their most “dated and high-need” facility. In June, they asked voters for almost $98 million.
“It was a resounding ‘no’ that we had,” Lee said.
He said that “no” was 2-1. So, they scaled down their plans.
“In June it was for something that would touch every building and hopefully fix all of those capacity needs,” Lee said.
Now, they’re focusing on what they need the most – a new junior high with double the current capacity.
“It’s clearly crowded. Even though the kids aren’t here, you can tell there’s not enough space,” Anderson said.
Anderson said he’s in favor of anything that’ll help. His family wanted to move to a district that values education.
“So for us, any way we can support the kids to have the best education – whether it’s facilities or anything like that – is important,” he said.
It’ll all come down to the referendum on the ballot next month.
“If this doesn’t pass, then we’ll go back to the drawing board and continue to be as creative as possible,” Lee said.
If the referendum passes, the new school would be built at another site. But the district said they’d explore ways they can still use the current facility.
If you missed Wednesday’s open house, the district is hosting another one Tuesday, Oct. 25. That’ll happen from 6-8 p.m. in the junior high cafeteria. The district said it’s an opportunity ask questions about the proposal and tour the current building.