LANSING | Illiana Christian Association members approved a measure to move their high school to Indiana in a special meeting Monday.
The results were made public Thursday morning after the 1,732-755 vote was tallied. Just fewer than 70 percent of members supported moving Illiana Christian High School from Lansing to land in Hanover Township near St. John.
"This decision is a wonderful affirmation of the direction we're headed," Principal Peter Boonstra said.
The move has been in the works for more than a decade, according to the school. A 2009 study commissioned by the board suggested the Reformed Church's population center has shifted south and east of Lansing. Land for the proposed location has yet to be purchased, but the school owns a piece of land near the preferred site that could be used as an alternate location.
The school is already in the early stages of working with Peter Baldwin, of AMDG Architects, a firm based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Financial advisers have been contacted in preparation for the fundraising process.
Boonstra said the aim is to finish the project in two to four years. Actually building the school will take at least 18 months, he said.
The biggest hurdle is raising the money. Some donations have already been made, but now the process will begin in earnest.
"We now have a very ambitious multimillion dollar capital campaign (to conduct)," Boonstra said. "We haven't ever done this before, and it's hard to know how long it will take."
Carl Smits, an Illiana parent and member of a group that opposed the move with a blog at locationilliana.com, said the news was expected but still disappointing. He said it will be difficult for parents of younger students to enroll their kids at Illiana Christian, knowing that the school may move before they graduate.
"I strongly feel that a high school and Christian presence is still needed in the South Holland/Lansing area," Smits said. "Personally, I would like to be part of starting or restarting a new school."
The new building will be equal to or larger than the Lansing school, with room for future expansion and an auditorium to seat 700. The new campus also will have tennis courts, a track, baseball, softball and soccer fields, according to a letter from school officials posted on Illiana Christian's website.
"This new facility will allow us to not only broaden our reach in the Illiana region, but will also help us educate our students with the latest innovations in technology and classroom experience," Board President Bill Hromada said in a release. "While we already offer a great education, we look forward to the new horizons this facility will offer."