Future of Lockport Township High School unknown after voters reject $85M referendum

Tuesday, May 14, 2024 12:08AM
Future of Lockport Township High School unknown after voters reject $85M referendum
Lockport Township High School needs renovation after a classroom ceiling collapsed, but voters rejected an $85 million referendum to renovate it. Now its future is unknown.

LOCKPORT, Ill. (WLS) -- The future of Lockport Township High School is the focus of a special meeting Monday after voters rejected an $85 million referendum to renovate the century-old, historic school.

In the fall of 2023, a ceiling collapse in a classroom forced the school to close. Thankfully, no one was inside at the time and there were no injuries. But it was a warning for school officials that they had a problem in the 100-year-old building.

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In response, they closed the building, removed a couple dozen more ceilings, and moved the 1,000 students from this Central campus to a vacant building in the Lincoln Way District in nearby Frankfort.

It was intended to be a temporary arrangement, but students have been there ever since.

"I think Central is a great school and can be great for years to come, but I also realize what the community told us in the election," said Lance Thies, District 205 board member.

In March, the community voted down a referendum asking for $85 million in bonds to pay for upgrades in the building, leaving the school board searching for alternatives that allow them to make the building safe for students again.

To that end, they are hosting an open house before the Monday night board meeting.

"I think the board should do what they need to do so the kids can come attend classes here," said parent Candace Gerritsen.

The board also sent out a mailer seeking public input. They said they have several options that would allow them to temporarily bring students back to the building.

"We are in the middle of a huge community conversation about what's the scope. How much of the building should be renovated and how should we finance it," said Superintendent Dr. Bob McBride.

Whatever their ultimate decision, school officials hope they can begin repairs quickly so they can have students back in time for the fall semester start in mid-August.