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No State Funding for New Macomb Middle School

Rich Egger
The Macomb district currently has a combined junior-senior high school.

The Macomb School District hoped to receive funding through the state's massive capital bill to help pay for construction of a new middle school. But the state chose to spend its money on other projects.

“I’m confident we put together a fairly robust (grant) application,” said Superintendent Patrick Twomey, who pointed out the district worked on the application with experienced grant writers.

Twomey said the state was supposed to fund qualified projects on a first come, first served basis. He said he filed a Freedom of Information Act request to learn who received funding, and said it appears some projects that received grants submitted applications after the school district filed its proposal.

Credit Rich Egger
Macomb School Superintendent Patrick Twomey thinks the middle school construction project can go out to bid around Thanksgiving.

However, he added the information from the state was not well organized, did not include a key to its color code, and raised more questions. So he’s asking local state lawmakers to help find out why the state denied funding to the district.

“If nothing else, I’m hoping to learn something from it, like, ‘Here’s why you weren’t selected.’ If an opportunity arises again we would certainly correct whatever it is that may or may not have happened,” Twomey said.

The Macomb Board of Education approved a $9.5 million bond issue in January.  Twomey said that should cover more than half the cost of construction.  He said the district will “absolutely” continue to seek grants for the project, and he said the district is prepared if none come through.

“At the end of the day, if we had to fund it all, we will issue another set of bonds when the building is three-fourths of the way done or something like that,” Twomey said.

He said the district’s fund balances are in good shape so – if need be -- it should be able to pay for the entire project with revenue generated from the local one-cent sales tax for schools.

Twomey said he asked the architectural firm for the project to trim the estimated cost, which stood at around $19 million.  He said the firm has come up with several proposals to reduce the cost but he does not have a current estimated price tag. Twomey said he hopes to reduce the cost to $17-$18 million.

He hopes to break ground in the spring.

The new middle school will be built just south of the current middle and high school campus.

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.