District 150 estimates $43 million to fully air condition remainder of schools

By Marshanna Hester

September 10, 2013 Updated Sep 10, 2013 at 6:53 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Fans are in high demand at Manual Academy.

They're all throughout the school, in multiple windows, visible from the outside.

It's a hot reality students, faculty and staff are trying to cope with.

But District 150's interim comptroller and treasurer David Kinney said they don't have to, if voters approve a county wide facility sales tax in March.

"Any tax is never a popular idea," he said. "It really isn't and I understand that and our board understands that, but we need to deal with our facilities. We can't let them continue to deteriorate."

The majority of Manual Academy is not air conditioned, leaving students and staff to sweat it out for even just half a day.

District officials estimate it would cost $43 million to fully air condition it and 12 other schools.

Some of the facilities upgrades could look like those at Peoria High School.

Part of a grant helped fund air conditioning, new windows, a science wing and second gym.

Kinney said the proposed sales tax would help provide a comfortable level of learning district-wide.

"We need windows, air conditioning, we're going to need roofs, so I think this is a way to fund those kinds of things and not just for this district, but all districts in the county," Kinney continued.

Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan said the tax would generate $9 million a year.

But until that revenue stream is secure, the district will continue to air condition those facilities it can.

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