Belvidere Referendum

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In March, the Belvidere school district will ask voters to approve a tax increase to build a second high school. Many say it's the answer to overcrowding, but it could alter the academic and athletic landscape at Belvidere High School.

Big changes are in the works for Belvidere schools. In March voters could approve the construction of a second high school to deal with overcrowding issues.

"I would support the tax increase. I think five years ago when I was there it was there was an overcrowding problem. The additions helped but it wasn't going to solve the problem of growth in the area," said Jeff Schuetz.

A second high school would resolve many problems facing the district but recent graduates say it also would create some new challenges.

"It would kind of hurt school spirit," said Jason Butz.

A former football, player Butz says a second high school will effect rivalries and possibly weaken the Bucs' athletic squads.

"Football is a big thing around here. I think if the broke it up they'd have to maybe keep the sports the same, together where they just commute back and forth or something like that," added Butz.

A new school wouldn't be built until 2009 and current student athletes are glad for that.

"It might weaken the teams. We're pretty good in some sports and if they take people away we might not be as good," Tom Chambers said.

Belvidere's athletic director says the district views a new high school as an opportunity.

"I think it's going to give a lot more students the opportunity to participate," said Neil Trainor.

Trainor says there will be more opportunities for students to excel on the field, in the classroom and just about anywhere else, and Trainor says that's what the growing district needs.

If voters approve the $54.5 million referendum, the district would also build a new elementary school and add on to Belvidere Central Middle School. The tax hike would cost the owner of a $150,000 home, about $450 more a year in taxes.