MORTON — Build a new high school. Close the junior high school and transform the current high school into a junior high school or middle school.

Those ideas were put on the table again Tuesday by Morton School Board members as they resumed discussing long-range facilities options after taking time off for more than a year so they could focus on a $10.5 million building bonds referendum that was passed by voters in March 2016.

Board President Michelle Bernier asked board members last month to be creative and come up with ideas for facilities improvements in the growing six-school, K-12 district that includes four elementary schools, Morton Junior High School and Morton High School.

Several dozen ideas were presented by board members and administrators Tuesday during a nearly one-hour session.

Among the more intriguing ideas:

* Build a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten facility that includes a for-profit preschool.

* Transform the junior high school into an area magnet school for the arts or science and technology.

* Transform the junior high school into a high school freshman academy.

* If a new high school is built, make a portion of it community space — perhaps a senior citizen center — and construct a field house that could be used by the community.

* If a new high school is built, explore partnering with a major university to make it also a satellite campus for the university.

* Turn the first floor of the junior high school into pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms and partner with a college or other education entity that would use the second floor.

* Add on to the junior high school so sixth-graders could attend school there along with seventh- and eighth-graders.

* Use the 18 acres the school district owns on Harding Road to build a grades 6 through 8 middle school.

* Build a new elementary school near Groveland Township or where the school district is experiencing growth.

* Partner with the Morton Park District to use the creek that's on the district's vacant property off Fourth Avenue as a recreational and educational resource.

Bernier said she'll compile the ideas and bring them back for discussion next month at a board meeting.

Also at Tuesday's board meeting:

* In the only reference to a email phishing scam last week that resulted in the Social Security numbers and wage information of more than 400 school district employees being sent to the scammer, Superintendent Lindsey Hall said a Freedom of Information request for a copy of the phishing email was denied by the district because the email is being examined by law enforcement. Morton police believe the bogus email originated in Russia.

* Bernier said the board will do a second round of interviews Thursday of the finalists in a search for a new superintendent. Hall is leaving June 30 to become the superintendent of the Mahomet-Seymour School District. After a new Morton superintendent is selected, the board will begin a search for a new high school principal. Principal Marjorie Johnson is leaving at the end of the school year to be superintendent for East Peoria Community High School.


Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 and Follow him at