79-year-old high school serves its last group of students

By Katherine Tellez

June 8, 2014 Updated Jun 9, 2014 at 1:57 PM CDT

KNOXVILLE, Ill. -- Knoxville school district's new high school is almost complete.

Construction on the building started in June 2013 after years of planning.

Of the $31.6 million dollar cost, $20.3 million is coming from a grant from the state of Illinois.

The other $11.3 million is coming from school district funds, a majority of which was funded through the school facilities sales tax that voters approved in Knox County back in 2010.

After debating whether to try and renovate the 79-year-old high school, the district decided it would be better in the long run to build new.

"They're able to do more in the classroom. They're able to get their hands on more. They're able to do more experiments, more activities. Which means, we hope, in the long run they'll be better prepared for life after high school," said Knoxville Superintendent, Steve Wilder.

Construction won't be finished until September, but most of the building will be complete when the kids start school in August.

"If you talk to this year's seniors they're a little disappointed they won't get to see it. But if you talk to students at the high school and even students at the junior high school that are coming over, there's a lot of excitement," Wilder said.

Most residents agree with the decision and think the old building limited the technology the students had access to.

While the superintendent said the property taxes will not increase, some residents are still concerned.

"Am I worried about it? Well yeah, there's always that concern," said lifelong Knoxville resident Alan Palmar. "I think probably the taxes will go up, but if they say they weren't, I have to take them for what they say."

All the excitement about the new building doesn't mean residents aren't sad to see the old building, and all of the memories inside of it, get torn down.

"It's going to be a sad day...the day that school comes down. But I think it is kind of necessary that we move forward," Palmar said.

School officials expect to come in under budget on the project.