Consultant explains building bond proposal

Consultant explains building bond proposal

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign school board member Arlene Blank said she – and the community members she's talked with – don't want to pay a consultant to help the district put together a new building bond proposal.

"There's still a lot of distrust of the board and administration in this community, and I don't think spending bucks for a consultant," is going to help rebuild trust, Blank said, adding the school district has budget issues. "I'm not interested in spending money on consultants that could be spent on putting teachers and aides in front of kids."

Blank's comments came after the school board heard a presentation Monday night from Unicom-ARC, a St. Louis firm that has helped dozens of school districts pass building bond proposals, including six in this spring's election. It stresses a grass-roots approach that includes active participation from community members in coming up with a plan.

Dan Burns of Unicom-ARC discussed the firm's process for getting the community involved in district planning, then presented a timeline for the Champaign school district that would come up with a plan to be put before voters in the spring of 2008.

"Looking at your loss in the last election and some of the complex issues, whether it's enrollment or the consent decree, it would be tough to do a hurry-up," he said. "The community can't support what it doesn't understand, and understanding takes time."

Burns didn't specifically discuss the services the company would provide. He said that would be decided by administrators and the board. He also declined to give a cost estimate, saying it would depend on the scope of the firm's services and the timeline.

Superintendent Arthur Culver said he wanted to get a more detailed proposal from Unicom-ARC, and possibly put out a request for proposals from other companies.

Blank and board member Nathaniel Banks said the board first needs to discuss how it wants to proceed.

Other business:

Deans hired. The board hired Edwin Wilson as dean at Edison Middle School. Wilson is currently a teacher of sociology, minority history and world history at Danville High School. Asia Fuller-Hamilton was hired as dean at Jefferson Middle School. Fuller-Hamilton is currently a language arts and social studies teacher at Jefferson.

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