By Jean Seegers, REPORTER

 Should the Hononegah Community High School District Community approve a Referendum to make a $44,000.000 investment in the high school?  That question will be on the ballot at the Nov.8, Election. Friends of Hononegah Community High School (FHCHS), a group comprised of local citizens, are hoping to educate and convince members of the surrounding communities that passing the Referendum will be an investment in the best interest of everyone. Members of FHCHS have held a series of informational sessions and tours at the school and reaching out to the community in an effort to clarify how funds would be used and to answer questions. Chairman of the FHCHS, Scot Anderson, Treasurer Scot Kitzman and group member Pat Hoey met with media representatives at Roscoe Methodist Church on Wednesday, Oct. 12, to answer questions. Kitzman said many residents in the area are living here because of the schools.  Rockton, Roscoe, Prairie Hill, and Shirland School Districts are feeder districts to Hononegah High School. Anderson said the Rockford area is listed sixth in the fastest growing real estate markets in the country, according to 24/7 Wall Street.  It stands to reason that families want to send their kids to good schools. Cost per student at HCHS is $11,249, well below the state average of $12,824.

The improvements include a list of improvement of the athletic facilities.  “The project really touches all the students,” Kitzman said.  “These days the educational model is changing.  Students need to be well-rounded and well balanced.” Last December, the athletic dome collapsed.   The dome was erected 13 years ago, and was expected to last 20 years, according to Board President Dave Kurlinkus.  While the dome was insured, there have been on-going issues about replacing it with another dome or erecting a brick and mortar building. Kurlinkus said the public has been overwhelmingly in favor of a brick and mortar building. The District owns a parcel of land on McCurry Rd.  Kurlinkus said there are no plans to build a new high school there in the near future.  He said the need is not there right now.  “The current 42 acre site in Rockton is supporting an enrollment of 21,000 to 22,000 students, down from what was anticipated before the 2006 economic crash.”

In September, after input from the community, teachers and administrators, the Board passed a budget outlining the projects to be undertaken if the referendum is approved including:

*Constructing a new brick and mortar field house to replace the inflatable dome. – $15.5 million

* Upgrading and enhancing classroom space – $7 million

* Expanding the cafeteria and upgrading the culinary arts facility – $3.5 million

*Renovating the Performing Arts Center – $600,000

* Constructing a swimming pool – $8 million

* Upgrading and improving the softball field and Kelsey Stadium – $3.65 million

* Resurfacing and updating the tennis courts – $700,000

* Contingency – $5.75 million.

* Performing Arts Center – $600,000

Total – $44,702,500

The priority list was developed from six community forums in August and September.


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