THE ISSUE: Streator High may borrow money for auditorium work
OUR VIEW: Renovation necessary for school, community
Auditorium renovations have taken center stage at the Streator High School for the past decade.
Tuesday may finally be the long overdue climax.
The district is looking to borrow nearly $10 million for building improvements, $7 million for the auditorium, with no expected property tax increases, said Superintendent Matt Seaton.
"This is where the rubber hits the road," Seaton told the board.
"With the auditorium, it's now or never," School Board President Earl Woeltje added.
We can't help but agree. Action needs to be taken now.
Six years earlier, the school board eyed two options: an estimated $5,800,595 for a renovation versus $6,600,000 for a completely new building.
Now, repairs near $7 million.
When discussions took place, then-Superintendent Kevin Myers called for meetings to be in the auditorium to give board members and the public a first-hand experience at the shabby shape of the facility. The ceiling was crumbling. Water leaks were present. Acoustics were abysmal. One commenter from a September 2012 Times article called the auditorium "awful."
Myers said the auditorium could have been rebuilt with no tax increases through refinanced and extending existing bonds to 2023.
The economic climate, however, was not ideal.
State school funding was completely uncertain, and the expectation statewide was districts would only receive a percentage of what was promised.
While property owners wouldn't have paid more on their tax bills, the district would have paid in debt services and limited its borrowing ability in a time of financial uncertainty.
At this time, the high school is expected to get more money under a new funding formula and budget surpluses are projected for the next few years.
Streator High School, as well as the entire community, deserve a first-rate venue to host concerts, plays, assemblies to not only further education, but to also bring activities into the city.
The time to act is now.
Let's close the curtain on a happy ending to a long saga.