Rockridge bond referendum defeated

Posted Online: March 18, 2014, 11:12 pm
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By Anthony Watt,
Rockridge School District residents handily defeated a proposed $15 million bond issuance for a new elementary school.

The vote was 1,315 against and 639 for the measure as of about 10:30 p.m. with 87 percent of the precincts reporting.

The bonds would have been used to build the school in Edgington, allowing the district to eliminate schools in Andalusia, Illinois City and Taylor Ridge. The proposed school would have housed up to 515 students, from preschool to fifth grade, with room for growth. It planned on the southern edge of the main Rockridge campus that already includes the high school and junior high school.

"We're a little disappointed," said Tom Parchert, a member of Rockridge Forward, a group promoting the referendum.

Opponent Gary Kolls said the measure's defeat was good.

"We didn't think it was needed," he said.

Supporters of the project have argued 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.

Opponents contended the project was unnecessary and the ensuing tax hike would be a burden on district residents.

The elementary school 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.

They also argued the 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.

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