Vote expected on Champaign school working cash bonds

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school board is expected to vote Monday evening on issuing a second round of the working cash bonds it approved last year.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Mellon Administrative Center, 703 S. New St., C. The board will gather for an executive session at 5:30 p.m.
The school board approved last February issuing up to $14.5 million in working cash bonds. Last year, it issued $9.575 million in working cash bonds for various construction projects.
As a result, it could issue up to $4.925 million in bonds now.
Together, the bond issues are expected to raise property taxes $25 a year for the owner of a $150,000 home.
The money from the second bond issue will be used to put a wireless network throughout the school district, and for a new transportation facility.
The board is not scheduled to take action on either of those projects Monday.
Champaign schools spokeswoman Stephanie Stuart said the school board is in negotiations to buy a property for the transportation facility and is waiting to hear back about the costs associated with renovating it.
The board also heard a proposal earlier this month on wireless technology and is expected to take action on that later this spring, Stuart said.
Last year, when the school district was proposing the working cash bond issue, officials estimated wireless technology would cost $2.3 million.
But Dave Hohman, the school district’s director of educational technology, has proposed a network that would put wireless Internet in all the school district’s buildings that would cost about $765,000.
Also today, the school district will vote on a tentative agreement to give employees in the union that represents school district support staff a raise.
The raise would be 1 percent, retroactive to July 1, 2012, said Steve Pease, president of the Champaign Educational Service Professionals.
The union has a stipulation in its contract that says it can be  reopened in the 2012-13 school year if the teachers’ union receives a 3 percent raise or more, or if the school district’s revenue goes up 3 percent or more, Pease said. Because of the teachers’ raises, the contract was reopened.
Union members voted Saturday morning on the tentative agreement, and it passed 61-1.
The union represents about 530 employees, including bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, cooks, maintenance workers and more.
The union’s three-year contract expires in July. The union and school district could start negotiating on the new contract April 15, Pease said.

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