MAHOMET, Ill. (WCIA) – “I just felt that it was time to spend the money,” Chris Harpst said.

But the majority of Mahomet taxpayers disagreed with him. They voted against a tax hike that would help build a new junior high school. The current building is overcrowded, but now the district has to move on.

Superintendent Dr. Kenny Lee said they’ll continue to monitor enrollment and make the best of the 60-year-old facility. If this referendum had passed, the new junior high wouldn’t have opened until 2025. So, they’ll move forward with their plan for the next few years, but after that, even parents have said something needs to change.

Taxpayers faced the $59 million question on their ballots Tuesday.

“I don’t mind paying those taxes if it’s going to benefit the school system and the children of the community,” Harpst said.

Harpst has a son at Mahomet-Seymour Junior High, and he was among the 40% who voted in favor of the referendum.

“Frankly, I’m disappointed,” he said.

Disappointed that the majority of voters rejected the district’s proposal twice. When their $98 million plan failed in June, they didn’t give up. The junior high is hundreds of students over capacity and counting.

“I honestly thought that folks would see that and then realize we do need improvements and potentially a new junior high school,” Harpst said.

Not every parent feels it was a perfect plan. One said he only voted “yes” because overcrowding is a pressing problem. Dr. Lee said they’ll find a way to manage it.

“Certainly, we’ll always respect the wish of our taxpayers,” Lee said. “We’ll continue to look at creative ways inside and outside of the building to address our space constraints.”

They’ve already had to get creative. Some teachers share classrooms, or teach in the cafeteria or wrestling room. The district even added a portable extension with space for two more classrooms – but no bathrooms.

“We do have that secured off with fencing, but students do have to walk in the elements to go inside,” Lee said.

One parent said people are moving to Mahomet for the schools, but the village just doesn’t have the infrastructure to keep up. Now, even though it’s not as strained as the junior high, Lincoln Trail Elementary is also facing capacity issues.

“But if we continue to see enrollment grow, we’ll look into being creative in the building just as the junior high has been,” Lee said.

Some parents who voted against the referendum disagreed with the proposed location. Right now, the junior high is next to the high school. But the new one would’ve been built a couple miles away, by Middletown Prairie Elementary.

Read Mahomet-Seymour School Board President Max McComb’s statement below.

Our Board of Education respects our voters and the decision our community made yesterday at the polls. The significant overcrowding and substandard conditions at our Junior high will continue to be critical issues that we will work with our community to address.

School Board President Max McComb