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School Referendum

Harrisburg High School is pictured in 2015.

HARRISBURG — After decades of no renovations, the three years it will take to complete major work including new construction at Harrisburg High School might be a blip in comparison.

District board members recently approved the alternate revenue bonds to begin the $22 million project made possible by voter approval to use the district’s 1 percent sales tax rate for the project.

Voters approved a $15 million bond referendum in April. The remainder of the project at the more than 100-year-old school building will be paid with existing district funds, including refinancing some bonds.

It will be months before any sort of groundbreaking, but work has begun on infrastructure, such as wiring, said Superintendent Mike Gauch.

“We’re very happy that we are able to move forward and get an opportunity to provide this for the students,” Gauch said. “It’s been such a desperate need over time.”

With the district for a year, Gauch said to the best of his knowledge that there has not been any major renovation at the school for 30 or 40 years.

The proposed project consists of replacing the C Building and renovating three others, including the gym. By replacing the C Building, classroom labs and the cafeteria would be modernized. The overall historic value of the school is expected to be preserved.

The gym is first up, with a ground breaking anticipated in September or October, Gauch said, though some rooms have already been renovated, including adding new heating and air conditioning systems.

Gauch said some students will be displaced into other rooms, a partitioned gym among them, once demolition of the C Building begins.

Gauch asked for patience.

“This is going to be quite a long process. There is a lot of infrastructure that we have to get through before they see and wrecking balls out there," he said. "Be patient. We’re all excited to get the process started but when it is all said and done we want it to be a wonderful structure.”

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Nick Mariano is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Saline, Franklin and Jefferson counties.

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