D-87 plans to buy the State Farm building on Oakland Avenue

After passing a legislative waiver earlier this year allowing the Bloomington School District to consider purchasing or constructing an additional building without a referendum vote, officials plan to enter into a purchase agreement with State Farm for its building at 2329 E. Oakland Ave.

In a news release Friday, District 87 said it expects to use $4.5 million in reserve funds to purchase the building that is currently owned by State Farm, but is not being actively used.

The potential agreement between the school district and the insurance company includes a provision that State Farm would lease back some of the building for training purposes for at least three years, offsetting the “financial burden of the acquisition.”

“District 87 sees the possibility of acquiring (the building) as an excellent opportunity to enhance its offerings while improving programs for students and families to better meet the educational needs of the Bloomington community,” the statement said.

In a separate statement to WGLT, a State Farm spokesperson said the company is “pleased the potential sale of the Oakland Avenue building to District 87 will enhance education, benefit Bloomington and our surrounding community” and called the site a “State Farm landmark.”

As required by the legislative waiver, two public hearings will be held on the proposed purchase before the D-87th School Board votes on the matter. These hearings will be held prior to Board meetings regarding:

  • Nov. 15: Bloomington High School’s media open house begins at 5:45 p.m. The public hearing begins at 6:30 p.m.
  • December 6: An open house at the Educational Services Center in downtown Bloomington begins at 5:45 p.m., and the public session begins at 6:30 p.m.

A vote on purchasing the building will be determined at a later date, after the school board reviews comments collected during public hearings, the statement said.
D-87 has been eyeing the Oakland Street property for months, seeing the long-vacant building as a way to address both pre-K and vocational education programs.

Before the waiver was passed, Illinois school law required all school districts to make the decision on the purchase or potential construction of a new building before voters by referendum.

State Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, and State Rep. Sharon Chung, D-Bloomington, were the lead sponsors of SB 2323, a bill that waived the referendum requirement for District 87. The state Legislature passed a similar waiver to the Decatur public school system in 2022.

The waiver also requires the district’s purchase or construction of any new building to be completed by the end of the 2024-2025 school year.

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