School district has to reconsider referendum

By Anthony Antoine |, Maggie Hockenberry

Published 09/02 2014 01:31PM

Updated 09/03 2014 06:20PM

Update: 6:07 pm, 9/3/14, Wednesday
GIFFORD -- It's back to the drawing board for the Gifford School District. Over the weekend, they found out they couldn't put an advisory referendum on November's ballot. Wednesday night, they're holding an informational meeting at the grade school to start the conversation all over again.

"We had never seen an advisory ballot question submitted to only a portion of a school district before. Normally, they're submitted to an entire school district, or it's a legally-binding referendum."

The advisory referendum was denied. For two years, some families have asked the board for a choice of high schools.

"Gifford is a really small school. Then, they're jumping into a great, big high school, like Rantoul. A lot bigger environment, harder sometimes for our kids to participate in extra-curricular activities. They would prefer a small school like Armstrong. It's about the same size as us. Then, we also had some kids that were supposed to go to Armstrong High School that would like the chance to go to Rantoul High School."

Now, they have two options to give parents a choice.

"They can submit a binding question to a portion of the district under state law, or they can submit an advisory question which would be non-binding to the entire district at the April election."

No matter what they decide, it's going to take more time. It's possible the district will form a committee to come up with a survey to get voter feedback. At the earliest, they could get the question to voters by spring.
Original: 10:05 pm, 8/30/14, Saturday
GIFFORD -- High school students in Gifford, who also live in the Rantoul Township High School District, won't have the option to vote on which school they attend. There was going to be something on November's ballot to give students an option between Armstrong or Rantoul. But, because of wording issues on the referendum, it won't happen.

The suggested advisory referendum only included a portion of the district. Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten says only including part of the district is not legal. Some say they're disappointed the issue won't be on the ballot. Since it won't be voted on in November, the district will have to consider including the entire district or look into other options.

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