BELLEVILLE, Ill -- Governor George H. Ryan today celebrated the success of his Illinois FIRST program and the school improvements made for over 403,000 students throughout the state at one of Illinois’ 300 newly constructed schools, Belleville's Central Junior High.
“With Illinois FIRST, a $12 billion program to rebuild our infrastructure, roads, schools and transit systems, we had the resources to invest in our communities,” Governor Ryan said. “With Illinois FIRST, we were able to invest in our kids. We doubled the size of the school construction program to $2 billion, and we built 16,000 new classrooms and 300 new schools all across Illinois.”
Overall, the two Belleville School Districts, which educate approximately 8,600 students combined, received $33.8 million in funding from the state for improvements including a new junior high and construction at the high school’s two campuses.
“We are excited that the Governor is joining us for our opening day workshop at our brand new junior high,” said Dr. James Rosborg, District 118 Superintendent. “We give him tremendous thanks for the Illinois FIRST program. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to make these necessary improvements to our Belleville schools.”
Central Junior High has received more than $8.5 million from the State of Illinois through funds from Illinois FIRST. It was constructed in 1919 with an addition built in 1939. The old campus consisted of one large three-story building on a small lot with little room for children to play and the school's bus loading area had been located in a dangerous position adjacent to Route 159, a high-traffic roadway that runs through Belleville.
At the Belleville Township High School District the children were learning in modular classrooms instead of school buildings. The two campuses needed permanent classrooms and updated science labs, better accommodations for children with disabilities, and safer loading zones for school buses.
The new campus for Central Junior High is located on 26 acres of land adjacent to the New Westhaven Elementary School, with capacity for 810 seventh and eighth graders. The new building allows the District to fully meet the needs of all the junior high students at their home school and allow for the expansion of programs as the need occurs.
The High School, which is divided into East and West campuses, will also see vast improvements. A completely new West Campus is being constructed on 80 acres of land purchased by the District. This project is approximately 50 percent completed and is expected to be finished in May 2003.
The East Campus is receiving an addition that will accommodate 270 students, with new classrooms and labs for computer science and chemistry, classroom space for driver education, special education classrooms and a music classroom. The East Campus project will also provide for the construction of an auditorium and gymnasium annex.
Classrooms and labs on the East Campus are already completed; the auditorium and gymnasium complex is expected to be complete in December.
Governor Ryan’s Illinois FIRST program is a five-year, $12 billion initiative designed to rebuild, expand and repair our state’s critical infrastructure, improve structures and services that boost the quality of life in Illinois and create thousands of good paying jobs. Since the beginning of Illinois FIRST, more than 13,360 projects in communities throughout the state have been launched.