Enrollment, space needs occupy school board at retreat

Enrollment, space needs occupy school board at retreat

CHAMPAIGN — As enrollment goes up in the Champaign schools, the school board is talking about where to put those students.

The school board heard a presentation at a board retreat Monday from Stuart Brodsky of Cannon Design about alternate designs for upcoming renovations to Robeson and Bottenfield elementary schools.

The school district is dealing with higher enrollment and Brodsky told the board it could consider adding two classrooms and an English as a Second language classroom to each school, or add enough classrooms to add a fourth grouping of kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms, plus room for English as a Second Language.

Brodsky said he's hoping to get an indication of which alternate designs the board wants by its meeting next Monday.

Board member Stig Lanesskog said he'd like know the cost involved in designing the alternate plans. Board member Kristine Chalifoux said the board needs to decide if it wants to continue adding classrooms to schools in the central part of the school district, or build a new school in the outlying parts of the school district that are growing quickly.

The school board would have until March to decide whether to approve the alternatives. Superintendent Judy Wiegand said she expects a demographic study done by an educational facility planning firm to be complete by January or February.

Brodsky presented what he called "conceptual costs" for the alternative plans, which range from $1.05 million to $1.25 million to add two classrooms to Bottenfield and between $2.55 million and $2.75 million for adding space for a new group of kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms.

At Robeson, possible costs range between $1.8 million and $2.05 million for two classrooms and $3.5 million and $3.7 million to add space for a new grouping of kindergartners through fifth-graders.

The costs at Robeson would be higher, Brodsky said, because there weren't prior plans to add on to the school and the school district would have land surveying and soil borings done.

The school board also hosted a retreat for district employees and community members. They talked about social justice, how the school district can better work with parents to set students up for academic success and how to ease student transitions into kindergarten, sixth grade and high school.

Wiegand said two committees will be set up on each of the latter topics, and they'll give recommendations at the school district's next retreat in the spring.

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