VENICE - Venice Community School District #3 has announced that they will build a new elementary school, with plans to break ground in Spring 2024.

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“What we’re looking forward to, as a school district, staff, community and students, is just opportunity,” Superintendent Cynthia Tolbert said. “Our educational learning environment is going to be better. We’re going to be able to offer more opportunities for the children. We’re going to have learning spaces that are going to be conducive to student learning.”

This new building will mark the end of a tumultuous few years in the district. The previous Venice Elementary School was deemed structurally unsafe and condemned in September 2020. Students and teachers used virtual learning during the 2020–2021 school year before locating to the Melvin Price Depot in Granite City, a previous U.S. Army base, for the 2021–2022 year.

Tolbert noted that the space has not been ideal. The district has a little over 100 students in pre-K to eighth grade, and the Melvin Price Depot can’t comfortably house them all.

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“Currently, the building that we have the students in is 10,000 square feet,” Tolbert said. “We do not have a full kitchen. We do not have a gym. We actually had to outsource those services…We have teachers sharing rooms. So it’s not an ideal learning environment by any means.”

The district applied to several grants through the Illinois State Board of Education. They received an emergency school construction grant from the Capital Development Board, totaling $26 million. Tolbert named Governor J.B. Pritzker, State Representative Jay Hoffman and State Senator Christopher Belt as legislators who supported the district in this process.

The new school will be 47,000 square feet. Venice Elementary School will continue to be housed in the Melvin Price Depot until June 2025, when the new building is expected to be complete and ready for the 2025–2026 school year.

In addition to the new school, Tolbert said the City of Venice also plans to build a grocery store, a funeral home, a medical center, a few small shops and 40 new homes over the next few years. This is expected to increase enrollment in the Venice district.

“The school is going to be the pillar of the community, but the school is also a small piece of a larger puzzle. They’re going to revitalize the city of Venice,” Tolbert said. “It’s been an exciting experience thus far, and I know when we break ground it will be even more exciting because we’ll get to see all the hard work we’ve been putting forth this last year come to life.”

The new elementary school will be located at 700 Broadway in Venice. For more information about the Venice Community Unit School District #3 or updates about the elementary school construction, visit their official website or Facebook page.

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