WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Is the Community First Project Losing Steam?

Aug 1, 2018

The Macomb School District, the city of Macomb, McDonough District Hospital, and the YMCA of McDonough County have talked for several years about building a combination middle school and community center, a project called Community First.  It now looks like the school district is ready to move ahead on construction of a middle school with or without the partners.

“We haven’t pulled the plug yet but it’s not as hopeful as it was a few months ago,” said School District 185 Superintendent Patrick Twomey in response to TSPR’s question about whether Community First is on life support.

He said the partners are still talking and a final decision has not been made. But he would like to get the ball rolling on the next step toward establishing a middle school separate from the high school.

“I would really hope that by late fall/early winter we’ve got those two plans in front of the school board – whether we’re going to rehab a building or build a new building – and they make that choice.  And then by spring, or certainly before this school year is over with, have plans ready and available to show the community this what we’re going to do with the middle school,” said Twomey.

He said the district has not targeted a specific building for renovations if the board chooses to go that route instead of constructing a new building. He said there are options around Macomb. He said the building, which would house students in grades six through eight, would need to be large enough for more than 500 students.

Twomey has said the current set-up of having middle and high school students housed in the same building was supposed to be a temporary situation that has now lasted for 30 years.  He said establishing a separate middle school will alleviate overcrowding at all of the district’s schools.