A $40 million will enable the North Chicago district to replace Neal Math and Science Academy.

Biopharmaceutical company's $40 million gift will help Illinois district build middle school

March 2, 2019
AbbVie, based in North Chicago, Ill., is donating funds to the North Chicago district for construction of a new Neal Math and Science Academy.

A biopharmaceutical company has offered a $40 million donation to help the North Chicago (Ill.) district build a replacement middle school.

The Lake County News-Sun reports that AbbVie, based in North Chicago, would help the district have a new Neal Math and Science Academy by the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, says Melissa Walsh, AbbVie’s vice president for corporate responsibility and global philanthropy.

The new school will be built east of academy’s existing gym, Superintendent John Price says.

Neal Math and Science Academy will keep its name, which was important because as the district’s only middle school, the North Chicago community has a “strong connection” to it, Price said.

The first time Walsh was in Neal, she says she was “really surprised and disappointed” by the building’s condition and some of its infrastructure.

The district struggles with water leaks throughout the building, uneven heating and cooling, ongoing electrical issues and water-main breaks that have forced the school to close for repairs,

Paying for a new school building through a bond election and new debt is not an option for North Chicago District 187, which was taken over by the state in 2012.

The donation from AbbVie has been in the works behind the scenes for about a year. The plan is for the district and a foundation newly created by AbbVie to partner with IFF, a nonprofit financial institution that can guide the project and oversee the finances, according to district records. IFF will work with the district and its facilities advisory committee to design the new building.

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