Panelists announced for town hall on new Central High School

Panelists announced for town hall on new Central High School

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school district has announced the panelists who will discuss sites for a new Central High School at its upcoming town hall meeting.

The panelists will talk about concerns relating to various possible sites for the school and questions submitted by other residents.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30 at the Mellon Administrative Center, 703 S. New St., C.

The panelists are:

— Alejandra Aguero, assistant director of graduate admissions, University of Illinois College of Business.

— Patricia Avery, president, NAACP Champaign County.

— Imani Bazzell, director of At Promise ... of Success.

— Byron Clark, sales manager, Human Kinetics.

— Bruce Knight, planning and development director, city of Champaign.

— Dan McCall, president, Bricklayers Local #8 of Illinois.

— Angie Patton, marketing coordinator at the University of Illinois, Edison Middle School PTSA president and Central High School parent.

— Bob Porter, architect.

— Phil Van Ness, attorney and former Champaign school board member.

— Joe Williams, principal, Central High School.

At the meeting, Superintendent Judy Wiegand will give a brief introduction and overview of the work done in the Future Facilities process. Wiegand will also give an overview of the current conditions of Central High School.

Champaign school board members will be there, but will not run the meeting "in order to encourage organic discussion amongst the panelists," according to a news release from the school district.

Attendees at the meeting can submit written questions to the town hall's moderator, WCIA's Amanda Porterfield.

Community members can also submit questions to the panel through the school district's Facebook page,, via Twitter (find the school district at @unit4schools). Or, they can submit questions via email to Champaign schools spokeswoman Stephanie Stuart at

"Questions will be selected based on relevancy to the discussion and the panel will discuss as many community questions as possible during the allotted time," the news release said.

Last year, the school district hired public engagement firm DeJong-Richter to gather community input on the school district's aging facilities.

The firm's findings, as well as recommendations from a steering committee that was involved in that process, are available at

The committee's recommendations also included renovating and adding on to Centennial High School and South Side Elementary, building a new Dr. Howard Elementary and renovating the current Central building to accommodate Edison Middle School and a "career preparedness high school program."

The school district has money set aside from the 1 percent school facilities sales tax to buy land for a new high school, but not for its construction or the other recommendations made by the steering committee.

Depending on the timeline the board chooses, the committee recommended asking voters in an election to pay for all the recommended construction and renovations, which would cost about $193 million. That would increase property taxes about $250 for each $100,000 of assessed value.

A slower timeline, which was the steering committee's second recommendation, would have the school district ask for $139 million in 2014 to build a new Central and a new Dr. Howard, renovate Centennial and renovate and add on to South Side.

That would raise property taxes about $180 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Then, the school district could ask taxpayers later for an additional $54 million to renovate the Central building for Edison's use and to add onto Centennial.

That would raise property taxes about $70 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Or, it could ask for more if middle school enrollment projections show enrollment rising to or staying above 2,400 students, and the school district decides to build a new K-8 school or add onto Barkstall to make it one.

Board members had varying opinions of the recommendations and timelines when they discussed them in May.

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