Report will outline impact of new Central on transportation

Report will outline impact of new Central on transportation

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school board will hear a report Monday from the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission about how various possible sites for a new Central High School would affect the transportation of students, especially African-American and Hispanic students.

The open portion of the meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the Mellon Administrative Center, 703 S. New St., C. The school board will have an executive session at 5:30 p.m.

Andrew Levy, a planner at the Regional Planning Commission, will present the commission's findings to the school board Monday.

The Regional Planning Commission's documents for the board can be viewed here and here.

As a result of the consent decree settlement agreement, said Matthew Foster, the school district's executive director of business services, the school district agreed to consider how new school sites would affect the transportation of minority students.

The school district operated under a federal consent decree federal between 2001 and 2009, which required it to eliminate unwarranted disparities between black and white students in achievement, discipline, attendance, assignment to special education and access to gifted and honors classes, among other things.

The school district wanted to know how possible sites would affect all students in the school district, Foster said.

"What they're really doing is trying to give us one piece of the information we need when evaluating all of the sites," he said, adding that the district is creating a matrix of different factors, and some factors will carry different weights.

Levy said the commission used data from the school district about where students now live, including some specific areas where African-American and Hispanic students live, as well as those who are considered to have a "low-socioeconomic status."

Of note, the analysis includes two sites that are new to the list of possibilities. They came to the school district's attention this summer, Foster said.

One is between Bloomington Road and the Interstate 57 and 74 interchange. Levy said the land the school district is considering there does not include any of the buildings already in that area.

The other is on Fourth Street extended, north of Bradley Avenue. However, Foster said the Regional Planning Commission found that of a possible 40 available acres there, just 25 were within the Champaign school district.

Foster said that will count against the site when the school district considers it, as it's looking for at least 30 acres.

Foster said the discussion about how possible sites will affect student transportation is "a good starting point" for a meeting regarding the Central sites scheduled for next week.

The school district is hosting a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. next Monday at the Mellon center.

And, if any other sites come up as possibilities, the school district will have the planning commission evaluate their transportation effects on students, as well, he said.

Levy said the commission's study of transportation issues is just one factor when it comes to choosing a site for a new Central High School.

Especially important, he said, is public input and what the community wants.

"That's equally as important as any other numbers or analysis that we can conduct," he said.

Also Monday, the school board is also expected to vote on a policy and procedure to create goals for doing business with companies owned by minorities and women on construction projects expected to cost $100,000 or more.

The board previously discussed a draft that said the district use the goals on projects that would cost $500,000 or more.

The procedure says the school district will use the same goals as the current Illinois Capital Development Board recommendations for Champaign County as a guideline. The board recommends what percentage of work on each construction project should be done by minority or female-owned business.

The procedure says the district will communicate its goals when advertising projects for bid, have pre-bid meetings to encourage participation of businesses owned by minorities and women and allows for tracking the use of such businesses throughout construction projects.

Earlier this month, board Vice-President Jamar Brown said he wanted to see goals used in project that cost less than $500,000.

Also on the board's agenda is a scheduled vote on the 2014 budget.