Champaign school board OKs $9.5 million in working-cash bonds

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school board unanimously approved the issue of about $9.5 million in working-cash bonds at its Monday meeting.

The school district may do another bond issue sometime in the next school year. Last spring, it approved issuing up to $14.5 million in working-cash bonds, which means it could still issue up to $5 million in bonds.

The board is using that money to put in geothermal systems, new lights and new windows at Jefferson and Franklin middle schools and will build a new transportation center. The second bond issue will pay for new technology in the schools, which is still being studied, said school board President Sue Grey.

The first bond issue will cost the school district 2.6 percent in interest over 18 years, Tom Crabtree of Stifel Nicolaus told the school board Monday. Crabtree told the board he expects February 2013 to be a good time for its second bond issue.

The school board also approved 6-1 a one-year contract extension with Alves Educational Consultants to complete next year's school assignment process.

The agreement includes a software upgrade that will cost $27,000 and the actual assigning of students, which is expected to cost $65,000, for 725 hours of work at $90 an hour.

Last year, the school district paid the consultants about $63,000 for the school-choice-assignment work.

Superintendent Judy Wiegand reiterated that she's starting a task force to look at the school assignment process over the next year and said she hopes to educate local companies about the assignment process. She said the school district sent the request for proposals to some local companies directly and even held a meeting where local vendors could get more information and no one attended.

Board member Dave Tomlinson, who voted no, emphasized that he'd like to see the work done locally and his hopes that perhaps the school district could pay someone at the University of Illinois to write custom software the school district could use to assign its students.

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