MAROA, Ill. (WCIA) — Maroa-Forsyth schools are putting a referendum on the Illinois Primary ballot for a new $33 million middle school.
The current middle school has been standing since 1930. Two other schools in the district have gotten new buildings in the last 15 years. They thought it was time for the middle school to also come up to code.
“It does not meet the needs that we have now,” says Middle School Principal Kristopher Kahler. “We don’t have space where we can have collaboration groups, we’re turning old Pre-K rooms into art rooms, we’ve turned an old classroom into a fitness space. It does not meet the needs of a 21st century school.”
There have been several expansions since it open, but district leaders say a new school will be better for not only safety and education. It would also be cheaper to build a new school than make all of the necessary renovations to the current one.
The district wanted input from the community and got it in the form of almost 100 people coming to their debate meetings. To get it done, there is a proposed tax increase. It would add an extra $54 a year onto a $100,000 home.
The idea of a tax increase does not sit will with people who do not have kids, but one man who has been in Maroa his whole life understands it would help students.
“I don’t like it, but I recognize it’s the future,” says barber shop owner Curt Dunham. “Kids, you gotta support it. Everything else is going up. You just gotta pay them.”
The new building would be attached to the current high school. Ward 2 Alderman Blake West has only lived in town for a couple of years. He did not think a new school was needed, until he went on a tour. His own kids are in the district, but he says it is about more than just them.
“It becomes personable because it’s everyone’s kids,” says West. “It’s the community, it’s the kids of the community that it’s going to support and it’s the generations ahead of us.”
The ballot is on March 17. If approved, improvements would also be made to the current high school.