Bureau Valley takes referendum back to voters

The $12 million plan calls for additions and improvements

Manlius, Illinois - Administrators for a western Illinois school district are hoping for better luck with a $12 million bond referendum on the ballot Tuesday.

A different proposal was pushed by the Bureau Valley School District last spring.

The district has about 1150 students and covers part of Bureau, Whiteside and Lee Counties in Illinois.

Bureau Valley Superintendent Eric Lawson said, "There are concerns, I won't disagree with that, but for the most part, we feel pretty confident in the proposal that the board has put forward."

Bureau Valley Superintendent Eric Lawson is crossing his fingers that the plan on the ballot will win over voters.

Last spring, the district floated another bond referendum, a total of $17 million, that didn't see enough people checking yes.

Lawson said, "Where a building was proposed in the village of Sheffield, so it would have added a building to the district, and it would have taken us close to the debt limit."

This scaled-back plan gives them more leeway and if passed, will see an addition built onto the high school.
It will allow the consolidation of Bureau Valley South in Buda, Illinois to be completed and the closure of that school.

"The sixth, seventh and eighth have been here on the Manlius campus for the last two years," said Lawson. "The third through fifth graders will be coming to this 17 classroom addition."

The bond will also provide a chance to upgrade the schools in Walnut and Wyanet, including new heating and cooling systems. 

Lawson said, "We have structural needs for the district. We have a couple of building that have shown a lot of age."

Lawson said this new referendum comes as they finish paying off another, allowing them to maintain tax levels in the district if the new bond is approved. 
But it isn't just about the buildings; Lawson said it would help provide more educational opportunities for students, especially in junior high. 

"Placing an emphasis on career and technical education right now for college and career readiness," said Lawson.

The school plans to move fast if the referendum is passed, trying to have some of the work completed by the start of school in the fall. 

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