RANTOUL — A tract bordering Rantoul’s south Maplewood Drive, which once housed an elementary school, could once again become home to a public school.
The Rantoul City Schools board has passed a resolution to sell up to $6 million in bonds to pay for building a pre-kindergarten school near the intersection of Maplewood and Eater drives on the village’s southeast side. The old Maplewood Elementary, which stood there for years, was demolished due to low enrollment following the closure of Chanute Air Force Base in 1993.
Construction is not a certainty, as the board has yet to vote to sell the bonds.
Superintendent Scott Woods said the board considered several options, which also included renovation of an existing building, an addition to a current building or leasing a property.
The leasing option fell through.
“We were planning to move to a building we were going to lease,” Woods said. “We had multiple things in motion with that plan to move into that facility and were unable to secure the lease.”
The Pre-K program, which had been housed at Pleasant Acres Elementary until this school year, has been moved temporarily to the upstairs education department at Rantoul United Methodist Church, where seven classrooms are being used.
Five of those classrooms are used as Pre-K rooms, one as an office and one as a play space.
The program currently serves about 140 3- and 4-year-olds. It will eventually register up to 165 students.
An estimate to build a new building was placed at between $5 and $7 million. The board voted to authorize spending no more than $6 million.
One factor in choosing to build at the Maplewood Drive site is that the district already owns the property.
Woods said if it proceeds with the bond sale, the district would use proceeds from 1 percent sales-tax money. It already has some sales-tax money saved.
Woods said property taxes would not increase.
He said the board is also not expecting to receive any outside funding.
“We are prepared to do this without any grant money or low-interest loan money,” he said.