Thousands of parents and teachers in Belvidere are in a state of disbelief tonight... Voters rejected a referendum that would have paid to staff their new high school. The high school will still open next year, but at a cost to kids' education.
Belvidere residents voted to fund construction of the new high school. But the majority of voters don't want to pay to staff it.
"I'm very shocked we didn't get the support we thought we'd get from the community. It's sad," said Shelley Bankord, a Belvidere mom.
"It's very disappointing... especially disappointed in the community over all that they couldn't support and look out for the children,"said Dawn Murphy, also a Belvidere mom.
Staffing the new high school will cost $2.8 million. That money will likely come from budget cuts in areas such as extra curricular activities. That means new athletic fields at the high school may go unused.
"We'll have to look at all the programs we support in the school system. We'll have to see which ones we can reduce the funding for with the least effect on children," said Ted Stenerson, president of the Belvidere School Board.
The school board decided to open Belvidere North regardless of whether the referendum passed. They say there's no choice in the matter, because Belvidere's current high school is 450 students over capacity.
"Everybody needs a place to sit down and without opening the high school the overcrowding would get worse and worse," Stenerson said.
The school district's middle and elementary schools are also overcrowded. The failed referendum means some kids may have to learn in portable trailer classrooms next year.