Champaign unveils 11 options for schools
CHAMPAIGN — After months of research, the Champaign school district has released a list of possibilities for what it could do with its aging facilities.
The school district is hosting two community dialogue sessions Tuesday, and along with the educational facilities planning firm it hired, DeJong-Richter, unveiled 11 options.
The first dialogue started at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The second will begin at 6 p.m. at the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., C.
Those options included four possibilities for the district's Dr. Howard and South Side elementaries, three for the district's middle schools, and four options for the district's high schools. All listed estimates for what each individual option is expected to cost in 2015.
Costs for the high school options range between about $106 million and $189 million, for the middle schools, between about $72 million and $90 million, and for the elementary schools, about $38 million and $59 million.
The school district handed out a questionnaire for those attending, asking them to rank what part of town they'd like to move Central to, how they'd like the school district to prioritize the needs of its elementary, middle and high schools, which options they like the best and whether they'd support higher taxes for any of the options.
The Future Facilities steering committee will take the community's feedback to make a recommendation to Superintendent Judy Wiegand, perhaps even using pieces of the different options, depending on what the community says, said Scott Leopold, associate director at DeJong-Richter.
Wiegand will then make a recommendation to the school board about how to proceed.
It's possible a question about a property tax increase to deal with the school district's facilities will appear on the April 2014 ballot, Leopold said.
Options for the high schools include:
— Renovating both Centennial and Central on their current sites, with additions to Central of a pool and gym to the east side and a classroom addition to the west. This would cost about $106 million.
— Renovating Centennial and building Central at another, to-be-determined location. The new Central would have plenty of parking and its own athletic fields. This option would cost about $147 million. The old Central building would be used for an alternate purpose for high schoolers, still to be determined, and a 600-seat middle school. (Several middle-school options mention moving Edison Middle School to the current Central building. Edison now has about 660 students).
The school district also proposed two options related to putting both high schools on one campus.
One would put a new Central High next to the existing Centennial, which would be renovated. This would require more land in the area, as well as the land currently occupied by Jefferson Middle School. It would also mean the school district would build a new "competition athletic complex" at some other location, to be shared by both high schools. The old Central building would have an alternative use and could house a 600-seat middle school. The estimated cost would be $177 million.
The second option for putting both high schools on one campus would be to put them both at a new, shared location. Each would have its own parking and practice spaces for athletics, but the schools would share competition spaces for athletics. Central's current building would host that 400-seat alternative use and a 600-seat middle school. Centennial's building would also be repurposed in a way to be determined. This option would cost about $189 million.
The school district unveiled three options for what to do with its middle schools. All three include building a new middle school, in order to create enough seats in the school district to meet projected school district enrollment, as predicted by DeJong-Richter's demographic study. The community also expressed a desire during the recent months to keep the school district's middle schools at about 600 students, Leopold said.
The options are:
— Moving Edison Middle School to the current Central High School building, renovating Franklin Middle School, replacing Jefferson Middle School at another location and building another new middle school. This middle school option would cost about $90 million. This is the only option that's compatible with the idea to build a new Central High adjacent to Centennial, because that option would require the land Jefferson sits on. One challenge with this idea, though, is that the school district has installed new windows and a geothermal system at Jefferson using money from working cash bonds. The geothermal wells could be used in another building, said school district spokeswoman Stephanie Stuart.
— Moving Edison to the Central building, renovating both Franklin and Jefferson and building one new middle school. This would cost about $71 million.
— Renovating Franklin and Jefferson, building a new Edison elsewhere and building another new middle school. This option fits best with the high school option that would renovate both high schools in their current locations, because it doesn't require moving Edison to Central. This option would cost about $83 million.
The options for elementary schools are:
— Moving Dr. Howard to the elementary school on Kirby Avenue (the former Carrie Busey) and retiring the Dr. Howard building or using it for a different purpose. The Kirby Avenue school would be renovated, and would get two new classrooms, additional bathrooms and a new gym. This option also suggests renovating South Side Elementary, which would include a new gym, more classrooms and restrooms. This option also includes building a new elementary school in order to create enough seats for projected enrollment. This would cost about $38 million.
— Totally replacing Dr. Howard on its site, possibly using parts of the existing structure, retiring or repurposing the school on Kirby Avenue, renovating South Side elementary and building a new elementary school. This plan would use the existing land at the Dr. Howard school. It would cost about $56 million.
— Replacing Dr. Howard on the same site, renovating the Kirby Avenue school and renovating South Side to make it a kindergarten-through -eighth grade school. This idea could be combined with any of the middle school options, and the renovation-specific cost for both the elementary and middle school seats would be about $27.3 million. The total cost for this option is about $57 million.
— Replacing Dr. Howard on site, renovating South Side, retiring Kirby Avenue and building a new K-8 facility elsewhere. This would cost an estimated $59 million.