CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school district voted 3-1 Thursday to approve a contract with an architectural and construction planning firm to help it decide on a site for a new high school.
The school district will pay Gorski Reifsteck about $66,000 to narrow down its list of sites for a new Central High School and to understand the development costs of the sites it's considering.
The contract calls for helping the school board choose a site for a new Central High School by the end of the year.
Board member Lynn Stuckey voted no, saying she didn't want to pay another firm a consulting fee and she's not convinced of the value of the services the firm will provide.
Board member Scott MacAdam abstained, saying he works professionally with one of the people who will consult with Gorski Reifsteck and said he didn't think it would be appropriate for him to vote.
Board Vice President Jamar Brown and member Kristine Chalifoux were absent.
The board did not take action on the possibility of hiring a real estate agent to help it possibly identify more parcels for a possible site.
School district administration believes the board has been presented sufficient sites to consider, Superintendent Judy Wiegand told the board Thursday.
Now, the school board is expected to discuss possible sites at its Nov. 18 meeting and narrow the list down to six. That meeting will also include a presentation from Gorski Reifsteck.
Following that, Gorski Reifsteck will "perform a cursory look" at infrastructure available to those sites and look at what it would take to develop them, according to a letter to the school district from the firm, which is included in board documents.
Then, the board will have a special meeting Dec. 2 to discuss those findings and narrow that list to three sites.
After that meeting, Gorski Reifsteck will "prepare conceptual site organization diagrams confirming 'fit' of your program on the three short-listed sites," according to the letter. That evaluation will include the firm looking at high schools in similar communities, including in Urbana. The contract would also allow for Gorski Reifsteck to create estimates of "true development costs" of the three sites.
"Estimate of purchase price would be provided by others and is not part of these services," the letter said. It's possible the school district will also pay for specialty engineering reports on its final two or three sites, Wiegand said, including to study the environmental impact, traffic, possible asbestos removal and more.
Money for those studies would also come from the school district's education fund, although the school district has set aside money to actually buy property for a new Central with money from the school facilities sales tax.
The school district would pay for these studies to make sure it knows what to expect from the final site it chooses.
The firm would present those findings at the board's Dec. 9 meeting, and the board could decide on a site that evening.