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BELLEVILLE — State officials have a plan to stabilize a mine that collapsed under a school in southwestern Illinois.

The ground beneath the Wolf Branch Middle School in Swansea dropped almost 25 inches when the abandoned Summit Mine collapsed in September, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The agency said the collapse caused "extensive structural damage" to the building.

The department announced Wednesday that it will pump a concrete mixture into the mine to halt gradual sinking, The Belleville News-Democrat reported. It estimated that the project will begin in mid-April and be completed by early summer.

After the stabilization plan is complete, the school will be monitored for a number of months before any rebuilding can begin, Superintendent Scott Harres said in a post to the district's Facebook page.

According to the agency, the school district plans to rebuild the damaged portions of the building with district money. The portion that's "heavily damaged" will be removed, and the agency will assist the district with the cost.

"The efficient leveraging of available funds will allow the school building to reopen and, most importantly, to ensure a safe place for the children to learn," said Tom Benner, director of the IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals.

The project will cost nearly $1.9 million. It will be paid for with federal money from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

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