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Dist. 303 wish list for middle and high school tops $176 million
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/25/2008 5:46 PM

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If St. Charles Unit District 303 residents agree to every construction project on the district's wish list, they'll be looking at a cost of about $292 million in school improvements in the near future.

District 303 officials presented the first half of those projects two weeks ago to the community. Those projects entailed about $116 million of rebuilding or remodeling each of the districts 12 elementary schools. The improvements would include upgrading each school to modern standards of accessibility, air quality, capacity, school programming, safety and parking.

Thursday night, the district unveiled the second half of the wish list, which included similar improvements to each of the district's three middle schools and two high schools. Those projects include a near total rebuilding of Thompson Middle School and the rebuilding and relocation of Haines Middle School to a 45-acre patch near Silver Glen and Randall roads.

Thompson, because of its historic nature, would see a rebuild that would attempt to maintain some of the current physical features of the building much in the same way many old movie or performance theaters have been renovated in recent years. The old Haines Middle School would likely serve as a temporary home to Thompson students while their new school is built and Haines students relocate to their new location.

The fate of the current Haines Middle School once the new Thompson is built has not yet been determined.

There would also be substantial work to both high schools to create comparable and equal education opportunities for students at both buildings.

The trailers would disappear at North High School and East High School would see a simplification of the building design to allow for better access to rooms for disabled students and larger classroom dimensions for all students. Both schools would gain the ability to expand upward with additional floors.

The total potential price tag for the middle and high school work is roughly $176 million.

A major selling point of the middle and high school construction will be the elimination of needs for adding schools to the district in the near future, Superintendent Don Schlomann said.

"If the community were to say 'yes' to this, we have every reason to believe we'll not have a need for a fourth middle school or a third high school," Schlomann said.

Adding more schools was a major reason the last construction tax increase proposal failed in the district.

Schlomann emphasized that none of the construction will occur unless and until district residents say they want it to happen. Indeed, the necessary tax increase referendums would not even appear on ballots without a prior OK from residents who attend community meetings, he said.

Detailed explanations about how the district could fund the construction projects are set for community meetings next month.