Teutopolis High School could be seeing renovations in the upcoming years, or even a new addition. The topic of what to do with the ageing high school building has been discussed by the Teutopolis Board of Education for some time, but options are limited.
The building has had several additions throughout the years, but the oldest and most problematic section, is around 87-year-old and was built in 1929. To superintendent Bill Fritcher, it’s not a question of if something needs to be done, but when. “I think what we want to do, is we just want to be prepared for all options that might be out there,” Fritcher said Monday night. The concern is largely one of cost, particularly what taxpayers will stomach. “So our idea was let’s get what the cost would be renovate, and if we can build something new for the same amount of money it would cost renovate, let’s give that some serious consideration,” he continued.
Superintendent Fritcher discusses building options.
The figure discussed at Monday’s board meeting is around $4.3 million to renovate the high school. For around the same price, according to the district’s architects, the 1929 section of the school could be demolished and replaced with an addition with ten classrooms and a bathroom.
How will the district pay for it? The two most likely options would be to save up funds from a county-wide school district facilities tax and pay cash in a few years, or borrow the money. However, board members expressed concern that Effingham County tax payers would not vote for a referendum that would add an additional sales tax, barring things like unprepared food, medicine, and vehicles.
A similar referendum, proposed in 2014, would have netted the distinct 1.3 million annually to use for building maintenance. Several districts in the area, including Effingham Unit #40, are considering placing the tax on the April ballot. Nearby counties such as Coles and Shelby have both passed facilities taxes recently. According to Fritcher, revenue from a facilities tax “certainly would go a long way in addressing serious facility needs we have.” The board was supportive of implementing the tax.