O’FALLON – As O’Fallon District 90 moves forward with purchasing land for future use, the Board of Education wants the community to be informed and have a say in the potential 80-acre land acquisition.
Officials say that land is being acquired in part due to growth in O’Fallon and the increase in recent years of District 90 student population.
Board president John Wagnon said the land purchase will mean that the district will get to “lock in a great parcel of land in a prime location where significant growth in O’Fallon is happening today and will continue to happen for the next several years.”
The 80-acre parcel is near Milburn School Road in the Northwest section of O’Fallon. The OTHS Milburn Campus is east of the tract of land.
“With this land, we will have the ability to build a school in the future if our student population continues to grow like it has over the past several years,” Wagnon said.
Wagnon said based on recent growth patterns in O’Fallon and future projections from city planners, the District 90 Board believes the land will be invaluable when they would need it in the future for building expansion purposes.
“We aren’t building a school right now, but we want to position ourselves in the event we need to build a school in the future,” he said.
In a recent informational video on the O’Fallon District 90 Facebook page, Wagnon said there are communities and subdivisions in the Northwest portion of O’Fallon that are continuing to grow and develop. However, there are no District 90 school’s in this sector.
Some of the developing subdivisions near the land parcel are: Reserves of Timber Ridge, Windsor Creek, Bethel Farms, Savannah Hills and Milburn Estates.
While there is significant mine subsidence throughout O’Fallon that affects building and construction, Wagnon said it doesn’t present a problem in the proposed land acquisition.
Wagnon also said infrastructure surrounding the parcel of land is solid for potential school construction.
Because the tract is currently farmed, Wagnon said it could continue that way with any rent income from the farm offsetting the cost of owning it.
Enrollment numbers are steadily increasing in District 90 school’s, according to Wagnon. There are currently 3,717 students in the 2018-19 school year.
As a way to involve the community in the land acquisition process, District 90 is asking voters to decide in the April election.
Wagnon said while District 90 is not immediately building a school on the land currently, it’s something that could take place in the future.
“Right now, we are buying land to set us up for the future,” he said. “If we don’t get it now someone else will buy it.”
District 90 would pay a total of $2.2 million for the 80 acres of land.
Superintendent Carrie Hruby said architects have relayed that the potential school construction would need between 20 and 40 acres of space.
“The reason there is that span is because it depends on your green space — it depends on how the parking lot is laid out, what land it’s on and how you lay the building out,” Hruby said.
Hruby said at this point, there are still “a lot of unknowns.” “It’s far out,” she said of a school construction.
At the Feb. 19 District 90 BOE meeting, the board discussed the land acquisition. They clarified that the district won’t be needing all of the 80 acres of land. Once a school is built in the future, the value of the property would increase and the district could sell any of the land to offset any outstanding debt.