Board narrows Central site list to six

Board narrows Central site list to six

Tax levy, two contracts approved

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school board narrowed its list of possibilities for a new Central High School site Monday, as it works toward choosing a site by the year’s end.

All six are north of University Avenue.

The sites are:

— North of Olympian Drive, just east of Prospect Avenue.

— North of Olympian Drive, just west of Prospect Avenue.

— Southwest corner of Market Street and Olympian Drive.

— North of the T-intersection of Interstate Drive and Neil Street, east of the Ashland Park subdivision.

— North of the interchange of Interstates 57 and 74, west of Mattis Avenue and south of the High School of St. Thomas More.

— East of Interstate Research Park and between Olympian and Interstate drives.

School Board President Laurie Bonnett specifically mentioned some reasons two sites that were in the board's goal boundaries of being between Interstate 57, Interstate 74, Springfield Avenue and First Street were taken off the list in open session Monday evening.

Those sites included the Country Fair Shopping Center and one just south of the Interstate 74 and 57 interchange.

The latter was taken off because of an Illinois Department of Transportation Safety Study, and because of a water main running through the site that would have be relocated at a significant cost.

Country Fair didn't have the acreage to meet the school district's needs, would require demolition and site remediation and would cause businesses to have to move.

Dennis Bane, an employee of DLR Group, which is working with construction planning firm Gorski Reifsteck, explained to the board Monday the process they'd go through to narrow the sites.

Much of the work with board members will be done individually, he said, so all voices can be heard. The firm is creating score sheets that will calculate and weight the importance of different factors and features of the sites, and will average all board members' responses to show results.

The board will hold a special meeting Dec. 2 with the goal of narrowing the list down to three sites.

Meanwhile, the board approved a three-year contract with the union that represents support staff members. That deal allows workers a step increase plus 2.6 percent increase the first year, step plus 1.85 percent increase in the second year and step plus a 1.6 percent increase in the third year.

The contract's step increases average about 2.2 percent.

The board also approved a $98,500 contract with local firm Codagami, which will build the district's software for its kindergarten-assignment process this year.

After this year, the district will own the software, said Susan Zola, assistant superintendent of achievement, curriculum and instruction. In the past, the district has paid about $100,000 each year for a Boston-based vendor to assign its students, but never owned the software that company used.

The board also approved language that will clarify some aspects of the choice process, including proximity and how students are assigned to wait lists. It also extends the kindergarten registration process, so it will now continue from January through March.

The board also approved its proposed tax levy at Monday's meeting.

The district will ask for about $82.6 million this year. Last year, the district asked for $79.5 million and received about $79.3 million.

The district will also continue to use funds from the school facilities sales tax to abate bond payments on previous construction debt, which results in lower property-tax bills.

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alabaster jones 71 wrote on November 18, 2013 at 11:11 pm
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The land south of St. Thomas More makes the most sense.  Might as well put those roads they built there to good use instead of letting them sit there unused like they are right now.


You can imagine how often students would skip school for the nearby mall with any of the other locations.

champaignmomof2 wrote on November 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm

I am not in favor of any of the sites chosen.  Apparently the "center" of the Central population identified as Mattis/John was of little concern in this discussion, as was the majority of the conversation about walkability access that was the focus of the forum in October.  I'm disappointed to see buisness as usual with Champaign Unit 4.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on November 21, 2013 at 7:11 am
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I agree in principle that the school should be centrally located.  The only problem is, where?  There are few or no options in the middle of town.

pattsi wrote on November 24, 2013 at 9:11 am

This is not exactly correct. The main issue is lack of imagination and willingness to work within the confines of space that has some buildings on it. Notice all 6 sites are open land. Think of the area of Judah/Spauling/Franklin as one possible grouping of land along with the education collaboration opportunities with a junior high. A second is the intersection of Bradley and Neil, using the 4 corners of land along with ped crossing connecting the building section being used for computer labs, cafeteria, library or whatever creative thinking evolves for space use. This could have interlockings with the elementary school. Both are basically centerly located, would stimulate economic development in this neglected area and connectivity between downtown and Market Place, long over due--like decades. And a last plus, the students can get to these areas by present bus service, bikes, walk--not the case with any of the 6 sites. I continue to ask the question why the communty does not capture all of the expertise at the Big10 university about hich we brag exists in our community--civil engineering, structural engineering, architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, and more. The opportunity to be a leader not only in the state but nationally is slipping right through our fingers by continuing the mindset of 60-80 acreas only on the edge of town by the freeways,aka Blooming, Effingham, etc.

cjwinla wrote on November 24, 2013 at 10:11 am

Part of this process is to pay close attention to the details over time which is not easy to do. Attending the forums Unit 4 has had would be important as well. I agree on the Judah/Spaulding site but the Park District owns a good portion of that land and has gone on record that its not for sale.... Even for a school. Why they say that I don't know but that's their official position. Country Fair was considered but the cost was 3x higher than other sites. There is a reason Bloominton and other Districts have nice new high schools on the edge of town. Availability and Cost of land. Now while a site using 4 corners of Bradley and Neal is imaginative.... It's one of  the busiest intersections in the City and again land is owned by the Park District as well as a logistical nightmare . 

The reality is that based upon money ( which is not unlimited ) and space ( which is a 30 acre need) the Board has to make a prudent choice that satisfies these two criteria and these 6 sites do just that. It's not an easy decision and not everyone will be happy but if its accessible , reasonable in cost, and can host a new high school then let's do it ! 50 years since a  New high school was built in this town... Central is archaic and below standard ... In a City that boasts higher education as its premier resident it's pretty awful our kids go to a dilapidated old school . There are poor communities in the south and Midwest that have nicer facilities than Central.... That is unacceptable . Any of these six sites will work so hopefully they will choose soon and let's get the High School built ! 

cretis16 wrote on November 24, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Why would you build a school anywhere near Bradley/Neil. This is a high crime area and I cant see anyone sending childen into this area.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on November 24, 2013 at 10:11 pm
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Because they already own the property, and in fact have two buildings there, I'd guess.


What's the worry about the neighborhood? This ingenious plan obviously does not envision children ever walking, anywhere, nor otherwise being exposed to the outside world.


Hey, why not build the central Champaign high school in Mahomet?