Two Metro East schools in danger of closing

KSDK - The superintendent of Grant Middle and Illini Elementary says - unless they raise taxes - 720 students will have to find new schools.

Grant School District 110 has been in trouble before. This is their third attempt at a referendum to raise property taxes. Last year it failed by about 70 votes.

"It means everything, we need this to pass times five," said Jennifer Edwards, parent of five.

The issue? Whether or not to raise property taxes by 85 cents.

"It's just not the time right now for us to get a tax increase," said Beulah Bohnenstiehl, mother of seven and grandmother of 19 who opposes the issue.

Officials with Grant School District 110 in Fairview Heights say if the measure doesn't pass, the two schools -- Grant Middle and Illini Elementary -- will have to close.

Fifth grader Malcolm Edwards says he doesn't want to have to make new friends.

"I like my school, it's a good school," the 11-year-old said.

Superintendent Matt Stines explains the increase would mean an extra $8.25 cents a month on a $100,000 home.

Opponents like Bohnenstiehl - who didn't want us to show her face - says those in favor are being selfish.

"I think there's so many people out of work, it's not just about me," she said.

Stines says the district hasn't passed an increase in almost 30 years.

"Could you live today off of what you made 30 years ago and probably not, and the school is in the same situation," he said, pointing out that the district has lost $1.2 million from the state in the past 5 years.

"In about four years, it would put us to where we would have surplus spending and then at that point we could bring back some of the programs we've cut," he said.

He says they've already cut art, music, classroom aides and 4 teachers, that's just to name a few things.

Bohnenstiehl says it's just not enough.

"I think the cutbacks should be on their side," she said.

The vote is this Tuesday.

If it doesn't pass, it's up to the state where the kids go, districts closest include Belleville, East St. Louis and Wolf-Branch.


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