HOMER — Heritage school board members have prioritized capital improvement projects to be financed through Champaign County's 1 percent school construction sales tax.
The tax revenue — about $25,000 per month — is being applied toward overages on building additions at the district's two schools, said Heritage interim Superintendent Allen Hall. These overages will be fully paid by March, he said.
Board members ranked projects through next summer in this order: sewer hook-up in Homer, $15,000 to $20,000; oil and chip at the new Homer parking lot, $15,000; side baskets installed at the new gym at Homer, $15,000; bleachers for new gyms in Homer and Broadlands, $15,000 to $25,000. Hall said the high school parking lot also would require some work.
The proposed spending deviates from earlier plans. In spring 2009, in an effort to gain local support for the 1 percent sales tax vote, Heritage board members had promised that a minimum of one-third of all revenue from the sales tax would be used to pay down existing bonds and property taxes. Since then, a change in leadership has resulted in a change of direction: Only two of the seven current board members sat on the board in April 2009. And former Superintendent Andrew Larson resigned in June 2010.
Hall also told board members the elementary school may be required to offer breakfast service starting next year, since 40 percent of its students fall within the low-income bracket. Hall estimates breakfast service would cost the district about $10,000 per year and would require morning bus routes to pick some children up well before 7 a.m.
Since the junior high, housed in the same building with the elementary, has a lower percentage of low-income families, Hall said he has submitted a request to the state to combine the elementary and junior high schools. If approved, the combined school would have 38 percent low-income students, and no breakfast offering would be required.
If approved, Hall said, combining the schools into one would not affect state funding.