News Local/State

Back To Drawing Board For Monticello School Officials After Referendum Defeat


When the Monticello school board meets next week, members are expected to discuss the voters’ rejection in Tuesday's election of a $40 million bond referendum to build a new high school, and turn the old high school campus into a district-wide grade school.

The referendum was defeated by a voter of 2,344 to 1,977.

Monticello School Board President Jim Dahl says it’s time for board members to take a step back to better understand what the community is asking for.

Dahl says he knows that many voters wanted more specifics about where the new high school would be located and what it would look like --- specifics that would have cost money to find out.

“It’s a good question to ask, because certainly, people want to understand what they’re quote-unquote 'buying'", said Dahl. "On the other hand, it requires expenditures with kind of an uncertainty to it. And the board was not, at that point in time, willing to spend the money without truly understanding exactly where we’re going to land on community support for a new building.”

 In contrast to Monticello, voters in the Champaign school district also rejected a high school bond referendum Tuesday. In their case, school officials had already chosen a site, on the northern edge of the city. Dahl says that Monticello voters have said in community meetings that they prefer a central location for a new high school.

While Monticello school district voters rejected the bond proposal, they --- along with the rest of Piatt County --- approved a county-wide sales tax for school facilities, by a vote of 3,769 to 3,255.

However, Monticello school officials say the projected $400,000 annual revenue from the sales tax won’t generate enough money by itself to build or remodel a high school.