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Rockridge voters to decide on new school


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Originally Posted Online: March 14, 2014, 5:56 pm
Last Updated: March 15, 2014, 10:20 am
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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.com

Voters living in the Rockridge School District will decide on Tuesday whether to issue $15 million in bonds to build a new, single elementary school.

The new elementary school would be in Edgington, while schools in Andalusia, Illinois City and Taylor Ridge would be closed.

The proposed school would be built on the southern edge of the main Rockridge campus that already includes the high school and junior high school. It could handle up to 515 students, from preschool to fifth grade, with room for growth.

Supporters of the proposal, including a group called Rockridge Forward, along with Rockridge school superintendent Chester Lien, say the new building would include secured entrances to control visitors' entry, hardened areas for extreme weather and dedicated space for a cafeteria, a gym and a multimedia library. Staff also would be centralized, improving communication and providing more resources for all students.

The three older elementary schools are expected to cost the district $8 million to maintain during the next 20 years, they said. Boilers, plumbing and other systems are as old as the schools; none of the buildings have air conditioning.

Rockridge Forward has a website with a tax calculator at rockridgeforward.com that can be used to calculate the impact of the tax hike on individual property tax bills.

For example, according to the calculator, someone with a $150,000 property would see an increase of $281.07 annually until the bonds are paid off..

Opponents on the bond issue, a group called Save Our Schools, or SOS, argue the project is unnecessary on several points.

The elementary in Andalusia is still within its operational life, they said. The building was remodeled in the 1980s and residents were told then that the upgraded school would last another 50 years. It also had a recent roof replacement.

SOS also argues the ensuing tax hike would be a burden on district residents; utility services in Edgington may not be appropriate for supporting another building; that the district also has a dwindling population; closure would hurt the economies in the three communities; and that the elementary students should be kept separate from the older students.

There is a police presence at the Edgington campus, but there is no resident police department or fire station in the community, SOS said. The campus also relies on a septic, rather than a sewer system.

The bond referendum is one of several referendums that could affect the tax bill. Another school-related one is the 1 percent sales tax that, if passed would be used by Rock Island school districts to fund capital projects or related expenses like paying off bonds.

Rockridge gets about $7,000 in facilities sales tax revenue from Mercer County. If the Rock Island proposal passes, the district expects to receive nearly $600,000 annually.

Should both referendums pass on March 18, the Rockridge school district could use revenue from the new sales tax in October to start upgrading the high school, supporters said.

If the sales tax referendum is approved but the bond question fails, portions of the new sales tax revenue would have to be used to maintain the three aging elementary schools, Mr. Lien said.





















 



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  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.






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