Board discusses how to move forward

By Gary Brode |

Published 03/31 2014 12:34PM

Updated 04/01 2014 11:40AM

Latest: 10:02 pm, 3/31/14, Monday
CHAMPAIGN -- The picture for the future of Unit 4 School District is a little clearer. Change is definitely coming. Monday night's school board meeting addressed the district's future. Some questions were answered; others were raised.

What is clear is public schools, in Champaign, will look very different within the next decade. Earlier this month, the board presented about thirteen different scenarios for what would be the best option moving forward.

Monday's meeting narrowed those options to five. They include putting Dr. Howard Elementary and Edison Middle School as two on the chopping block.

A topic of discussion from the board is whether to include more K - 8th grade schools or keep a more traditional split of elementary and middle schools. Most of the scenarios would run about $250,000,000 in construction costs. The money would need to come from a tax referendum put to voters, so no construction could begin until ti's voted on, at the very earliest in November.

Superintendent Judy Wiegand hopes to see some clarity in the next couple of months. Wiegand says the highest priority is the high schools. They are currently at 103% capacity. In less than ten years, they could be at 120% capacity.

The schools recently purchased a site where the new Central High School will be built. A 1% county-wide sales tax in 2009 accounted for most of the money to buy the land, but they can't move forward with construction until the referendum passes.
Update: 6:06 pm, 3/31/14, Monday
CHAMPAIGN -- An increase in enrollment over the past few years is giving Unit 4 more than it can handle. Monday night, the district unveils its plan to remedy the problem.

Superintendent Judy Wiegand will give her plan to build a new Central High School. From there, board members and the community will have a chance to ask questions and provide input.

Combined, Central and Centennial are at 103% capacity. The actual problem isn't the current number of students, but rather the future. More than 800 students enrolled in kindergarten last year.

It's an increase of nearly 100 students from just a few years ago. By the time those kindergarteners reach high school, capacity will be at 120%. It's not like the younger grade levels have much room either. K - 5 and middle schools are all operating at 96% capacity.

The site location for the new Central High School is on Interstate Drive next to the Ashland Park Subdivision. Another topic for Monday night's meeting is what will happen with the current Central High School building after the move.
Original: 10:25 pm, 3/30/14, Sunday
CHAMPAIGN -- Unit 4's school board will have an open discussion Monday about the future of the district's buildings. Stephanie Stuart is the spokesperson for the district. She says they're working on a long-term plan for all the buildings in the district.

They will present the plan to the community then decide if a referendum should be put on the ballot for the new high school. Board members will share their thoughts. Community members are welcome to comment.

The meeting is Monday, 6 pm, at the Mellon Building.

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