Funding issues could delay school opening by a year

Construction on Meridian Elementary School in Mounds, Illinois, was supposed to be finished this summer, but that’s not going to happen.

From the outside, Meridian High School looks like any other school, but Superintendent Spencer Byrd says inside of the building, it’s chaos.

"We essentially have two buildings in one right now,” said Byrd. “We’re making do. It’s unfortunate because you would hope that public education could do more than just making do."

For the past three years, mold has forced kindergartners to share the halls with high school seniors.

History teacher Tony Rinella says that hurts every student’s education.

"With all of these kids in one school, we have to limit the curriculum they’re given,” said Rinella.  “We don’t have the amount of room or resources to give them."

Construction on a new $6 million grade school was scheduled to be done in July, but the state withheld about $2.5 million in funding. 

Now the superintendent simply hopes he can have doors and a roof on the new building by summer.

"If by chance we run out of money and the contractors have to leave and find a job somewhere else, that’s going to put us in dire straits,” said Byrd.

"These kids have been promised this new bigger, better building,” said Rinella. “The thing that stinks the worst is that they had absolutely no control over it."

Without an appropriation by the state, the students and construction workers may both get a summer break.

We reached out to the governor’s office for comment on this story and received this response:

“This particular school construction grant was included in Gov. Rauner’s proposed FY 16 and FY 17 capital budgets. Unfortunately, the leaders of the majority party refused to take up the governor’s capital budget last year, but we remain hopeful they will pass his capital budget this year to ensure projects like Meridian are supported.”

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