Champaign board again considers high school options

CHAMPAIGN - Interim Superintendent Robert Malito resurrected the issue of what to do with Central High School and the district’s other aging buildings at the Champaign school district’s study session Monday.

But the options he gave the board - five in total, with several choices therein for building a district facility in the north, south or central part of town - is just a start to the conversation.

Malito suggested the board take its time weighing the possibilities, and Board President Sue Grey said the board’s final decision may not even be among the options Malito presented Monday. The decision-making process could go on through as late as September 2012.

Malito’s options included building a new high school for Central students and moving either the district’s central office, Family Information Center, Academic Academy and Curriculum Center to the old Central building. Or, the district could move Edison Middle School to the current Central building and sell that property.

Malito also proposed several “more liberal” options, which resulted from suggestions.

Those included creating a “prep academy” of all eighth and ninth graders, either at the existing Centennial High School with a new high school being built for all 10th -through 12th-graders. Or, the district could demolish Jefferson Middle School and expand Centennial High School to include the 10th -through 12th-graders and build a new prep academy.

Among the sites listed for a possible new building, Malito included northern and southern locations outlined in previous discussions about relocating Central High School. They include locations at Olympian Drive at Market Street, Neil Street or Prospect Avenue. Southern locations could include sites at First Street and Windsor or Curtis roads. He also included a previously listed site at Cardinal and Duncan Roads.

He also outlined several new central locations for a new building, as well, including one on Kirby Avenue east of Interstate 57 and west of Centennial High School, Country Fair shopping center, the current location of Judah Christian School, which could also mean the demolition of Franklin Middle School, and the current Centennial High School and Jefferson Middle School location.

During the board’s discussion about Malito’s presentation, board members weighed the benefits of one large high school - expected to house about 2,200 students - against the drawbacks.

Board Vice President Stig Lanesskog said he worries that students could get lost at such a large high school.

But other board members pointed out that one large facility could prevent duplication as the district focuses on improving technology and facilities like labs and vocational training workspaces. It would also ensure more interest in things like Advanced Placement courses, which sometimes don’t have enough interest from students at one high school or another.

Board member Greg Novak said he liked Malito’s presentation because it dealt with many of the district’s oldest buildings, not just Central.

“We need to deal with … the district as a whole,” he said.

You can view Malito’s draft report and give the district feedback on its website at champaignschools.org.

 

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