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Unit 4 Schools progress may mean tax hike

CHAMPAIGN -- Unit 4 Schools have a clearer plan of what the district is going to look like but paying for it may mean higher taxes.
CHAMPAIGN -- Unit 4 Schools have a clearer plan of what the district is going to look like but paying for it may mean higher taxes. The school system has had a lot to think about this summer, including whether to keep two high schools or build one.

Whatever decisions are made, they say to pay for it, taxes may need to go up in a few years. However, Judy Wiegand says that is way down the line. Right now, they're focusing on suggestions made by the educational programming committee this summer.

They've narrowed down things like how many students they believe should be in a school and which schools should be combined. They're also leaning toward keeping two high schools, instead of building one large one.

However, those schools, along with Southside, Dr. Howard and some of the middle schools all need renovating. Even though Champaign County already hiked the sales tax by 1% in 2008 to pay for schools, they say it won't cover these future plans. 

"The first step is to take a look at some public opinion polling and focus group conversations and go from there. We believe that we need to do a tax referendum and we are targeting March 2014. But those plans might change based on the feedback we receive. And we are going to try to be as transparent as possible," says Dr. Judy Wiegand, Superintendent.

The district is gathering an internal facilities committee to work with an outside company to start planning the next phase and hope to have that committee in place in a few weeks. 

Copies of the committee's presentation are available on Unit 4's website.
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