The superintendent of the Macomb School District told Tri States Public Radio that a new middle school will be built with or without the Community First project.
“Hopefully it (the middle school) is part of this Community First building. I think it would be good for the community at large. If that doesn’t work, we’ll be building a stand-alone or refurbishing a building somewhere in town,” said Dr. Patrick Twomey.
“Clearly our board is committed to a middle school.”
He said the school district can afford the middle school because of the revenue generated by the one-cent sales tax McDonough County voters approved last fall to help pay for school construction projects in the county.
The partners in Community First are the school district, the city, McDonough District Hospital, and the Y-M-C-A. The Macomb Park District was originally involved but it dropped out a year ago.
In addition to the middle school, the Community First building could also include pools and gymnasiums that all the partners could use.
The public learned of the concept nearly two years ago. Twomey said the partners initially met rather frequently but they have been getting together less often of late.
“There seems to have been a lull, if you will, but I think some of that is probably natural. When it was clipping along, each of us individually were just working with our own boards and having our own semi-private conversations, if you would. But then you put all those entities in the same room and try to get everybody on the same page and I think it just naturally takes longer,” Twomey said.
The School District’s New Budget
The district’s tentative budget projects deficit spending of around $2 million but Twomey said that is no cause for alarm.
He said almost all of the shortfall is in the district’s Operations and Maintenance Fund and is almost entirely due to another construction project -- the planned upgrades to Lincoln School.
“So this was not a surprise. And again, these are intentional spending down of your funds. Our fund balances are still going to be extremely strong. We’re still going to have well over $2.5 million in O and M,” he said.
A transfer from the Transportation Fund will also help pay for the addition at the elementary school. Twomey said that fund will also remain healthy even after the transfer with a balance of around three-million dollars.
“We’re in great shape (financially),” he said.
The tentative budget is now on display. A public hearing will be held during the Board of Education’s meeting in September. Later during that meeting the board will be asked to approve the spending plan.
More on the Lincoln Addition
The cost of the project is not yet known.
Bid documents have been sent to contractors. Twomey said bids will be opened in a few weeks and the school board could approve one during its September meeting.
Twomey originally hoped construction would begin early this summer, but he said it took longer than expected for the engineering firm to complete its design work.
Lincoln will get a new multi-purpose room and a new kitchen, and several current rooms will be reconfigured.