District in McLean County. As of January, 1974, El Paso has 14 students in the educable mentally handicapped classes and 4 in the trainable handicapped classes which meet in Eureka. One child with severe hearing problems attends a school at Groveland, two attend a school for crippled children in Peoria, and three pre-schoolers attend special classes at the Baby Fold in Normal.
In 1972, the Board of Education was notified that a number of changes would have to be made in the physical plant and safety measures taken in order to bring them up to standards set by the state. The Jefferson Park building, which was built in 1897, was found to have the most infractions, including the lack of an indoor play area, no physical education classes, and unsatisfactory lunch arrangements. Investigation indicated that it would cost an estimated $400,000 to bring the building up to the required standards. In addition, there were a number of changes needed in the other school buildings, with the Secor building requiring the most attention.
A Citizens' Advisory Committee was named to help the Board of Education find an answer to the problem as the possibility of the state withholding full recognition for Jefferson Park and Secor threatened. If full recognition is withdrawn, state aid is reduced on the basis of the number of students involved.
On April 28, 1973, a referendum was held on a $1,900,000 bond issue to build a new high school building which would include a cafeteria and library/learning center for the entire school, classrooms and a gymnasium for the high school; to remodel the present high school for a junior high school; and to complete the life-safety requirements in the Centennial building, which would then house kindergarten through fifth grades. The new school would be located on present high school campus, south of the present building. The referendum was defeated by 19 votes.
During the summer the Board and Citizens Advisory Committee reviewed the alternatives – and reached the same conclusions. Representatives of the Superintendent of Public Instruction recommended in November, 1973 that full recognition be withheld from Jefferson Park School until June, 1974 "unless positive action is taken immediately to bring the building up to life-safety standards."
The question of a new school was presented in a second referendum December 8, 1973 and was defeated by a vote of 977 to 577. Prices of material and labor had advanced during the summer, so the price of the proposed project had been increased to $2,000,000.
Since that time, plans for completion of the life-safety requirements are being completed as rapidly as possible. At the February 26th meeting of the Board of Education, it was decided to close the Secor school at the end of 1973-74. The annual cost for operating the Secor school amounts to about $34,000, which the board deemed to be excessive, considering that only about 35 students are taught there. Secor students who will be in third grade in the fall of 1974 will attend
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