Twenty-four school districts throughout Illinois will share $400 million in state funds for construction of new buildings or upgrades to outdated energy systems. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn indicated funds will derive from the state's Illinois Jobs Now capital construction program, a $31-million initiative to create construction jobs via infrastructure improvements.
The program will allocate $307 million for school construction, $50 million for maintenance and $20 million for energy efficiency. An additional $25 million will target overcrowding in select districts, including Chicago Public School District No. 299 (CPS).
In all, CPS will receive $89 million for capital improvements, including $16 million the district may use to reduce overcrowding. Remaining funds include $59 million in capital construction grants, $10 million for maintenance and $4 million for upgrades to inefficient heating and cooling systems. In addition to class room renovations, CPS will use funds to execute roof repairs and make facilities accessible to students with disabilities.
Downstate, Clay, Marion and Wayne County school districts will receive funding for projects ranging from a new 57-classroom school for 1,600 students to a 41-classroom school for 1,175 students.
“Our children cannot concentrate on learning if they're sitting in a school that's crumbling,” Quinn indicated in a statement. “These projects will not only raise the standard of learning in our classrooms, they will bring much needed jobs to workers around our state.”
In June, the state sold more than $1 billion in general obligation bonds to fund school improvements, in addition to the expansion of Chicago Transit Authority rail line and other programs.