After 8 Years, State Delivers School Construction Grants

Money coming from public works program passed last year

Thursday, May 13, 2010  |  Updated 9:15 PM CDT
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After 8 Years, State Delivers School Construction Grants

benTEST

Eight years after promising to help build and repair old schools, the state of Illinois is finally delivering the money.

Eight years after promising to help build and repair old schools, the state of Illinois is finally delivering the money.

State officials announced Thursday that they're releasing nearly $149 million to 24 schools around the state.

The schools were first promised the money under Republican Gov. George Ryan as part of a massive construction program. Some raised local matching funds and launched projects because they were told the money was coming.

But the state ran short and the 24 schools were left hanging.

For Chicago Public Schools, the grants meant $29.7 million for school construction, the Chicago Tribune reported.  Five suburban Cook County schools are in line for another $4.5 million.

Hopes of getting the money rose and fell dramatically under Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The Chicago Democrat held a rally at one of the waiting school districts and all but guaranteed he'd pass a public works program to deliver the money. He didn't.

Later, the schools thought they had succeeded in getting legislation passed that included their money. At the last minute, Blagojevich announced he was interpreting the law in a way that would prevent the funds from being released. The schools were told to resubmit their applications and hope for the best.

Now the state is providing the money through a public works program that was approved last year.

The state Capital Development Board felt it was important that the schools finally get their money, said spokesman Dave Blanchette, and "Governor Quinn agreed with us that they had waited long enough."

The money is going to schools in Cook, DuPage, Kankakee, Sangamon and St. Clair counties, among others.

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