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Illinois district seeks $5M expansion as enrollment grows

October 1, 2018

SMITHTON, Ill. (AP) — A southern Illinois school district that has used a trailer to house classrooms and offices for six years is hoping voters will approve its request to expand the school building.

Smithton School District 130 hopes to get rid of the trailer and add new classrooms, a gym, first-floor bathrooms, a band room and a stage. The changes would also give school buses space so they don’t block street traffic while picking up or dropping off students.

It wants voters to approve the $5 million expansion plan in the Nov. 6 election, The Belleville News-Democrat reported . Voters rejected similar proposals in 2013 and 2017 to address the increasing student population.

The proposal would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $1,400 over 20 years, while the owner of a $350,000 home would pay about $4,200 over two decades.

“We don’t take it lightly,” said Brian Lester, the school board treasurer. “We assess that there is a need.”

The district’s enrollment has reached nearly 550 students, according to Superintendent Ryan Wamser. School officials believe enrollment will continue to grow as residential development in the area increases.

The trailer previously housed classrooms but is now the school’s library, with office space for the school psychologist and social worker.

Residents have said that one of the district’s top priorities should be maintaining class sizes, said Dale Barschak, the school board president.

“Well, then we’re going to need more classrooms,” Barschak said.

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Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, http://www.bnd.com

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