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Rohrsen Land Sold Back to Original Seller At A $3 Million Loss to the District

In 2006, the D301 Board of Education purchased 135 acres of land on Rohrsen Road for the future expansion of the district.  A former member of that board stated the purchase was based upon data and recommendations compiled by Northern Illinois University at the request of the district.  As recently as 2016, former Superintendent Todd Stirn said the Rohrsen land could accommodate an elementary school, middle school, high school, and transportation center.

We've determined the land on Rohrsen could sufficiently support an elementary school, a middle school, and a transportation center. Why is the district insistent on a 450,000 SF high school to solve elementary school space problems?

On February 20, 2024, the Board of Education accepted a bid to sell the Rohrsen Land BACK to the ORIGINAL SELLER for a $3 million loss.

The $5 million dollar purchase for over 300 acres on Route 47 closed on February 9th, 2024.  

  • Why would the district spend $5 million before knowing if the referendum will be approved?
  • Why wouldn't they keep that money for other improvements and simply improve the land on Rohrssen, which is paid in full?
  • How were these decisions made without any involvement of the public?   
  • We had no idea the Board was seeking to purchase land because we already own 135 acres outright and this land was discussed in the Focus Groups in 2022 and would have been the site of the high school had the 2023 referendum passed.

None of this should have happened behind closed doors.

In April 2023, the district placed a $195 million referendum to the public to build a new high school on the 135 acres located on Rohrsen Road.   In October 2023, 6 months AFTER the referendum vote took place, Mr. Glen Eriksson of Eriksson Engineering  spoke at the October Board of Education meeting to share numerous problems with the land on Rohrsen related to drainage and flood plain issues.   According to Mr. Eriksson, a minimum of $30,000 would need to be spent on a hydrologic study of the property.  He estimated it would take approximately 1 year to complete the necessary remediation that would make the land on Rohrsen buildable.  It was unclear what the cost of remediation would be until the hydrologic study was completed.

Instead of following through with the hydrologic study and determining the cost of remediation, the district immediately moved to purchase an additional 300+ acres of land off of Route 47 for the cost of $5 million (more than twice the size of Rohrsen).

The presence of flood zones at the Rohrsen Road property is easily determined by viewing publicly available online information on flood zone maps from FEMA.

  • Why did the District not know of these issues sooner than the October 2023 board meeting?
  • If the district relied on consultants to understand and advise of any potential issues, who are those consultants?
  • Are any of them still working for the District?

You can watch Mr. Ericksson speak at the October Board of Education meeting below.

When it comes to commercial development, performing due diligence and a site analysis are critical steps that should come before the engagement of any architectural firm or planning and design sessions.  Such due diligence would include performing a detailed site analysis including soil testing, environmental assessments, and surveying and assessing any legal or regulatory constraints, such as zoning laws, building codes, and easements.

Following site planning, you would then begin design work followed by budgeting.  Clearly, these steps were not performed before the taxpayers were asked to pay $195 million.  Who is responsible for the management and due diligence of this project?  Who is ensuring the appropriate steps are being followed and that the $195 million budget is an accurate number?

A referendum for $195 million was put before the taxpayers before the appropriate due diligence had been performed on the land.  Architects began design work before flood plain issues were identified, leading to an additional $5 million spend for new parcels of land. 

How else might that $5 million benefited our district's needs? 

We should all be asking how any of this was allowed to happen.

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We are a local group dedicated to cultivating an empowered and engaged community of parents and taxpayers to build an environment of transparency, accountability, and communication within Central Community Unified District 301 (D301), representing the unified voice of the people for a successful and sustainable future.


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Building A Better District is a volunteer community group advocating for transparency, honesty, accountability, and community engagement from Central CUSD 301 in Burlington, IL.

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