Board will pick Central site, but won't announce its choice

School board confirms request for tax increase will wait till fall, defines its search criteria

CHAMPAIGN — After years of debate, the site selection for a new Central High School will take place Monday night.

The much-anticipated announcement will not.

The school district says it will negotiate a contract with the land's seller before revealing the site. Not doing so "would put the negotiating process at risk," Superintendent Judy Wiegand said Wednesday, echoing the board's reason earlier this week for not unveiling which three sites survived the cut from six.

A few more details The News-Gazette learned during a Wednesday meeting with Wiegand and school board President Laurie Bonnett:

— Wiegand expects the school board to wait until next fall's election — at the earliest — to ask voters for a property tax increase.

— The board will seek a site with at least 47.7 acres. According to research the district commissioned, that's the space it will need for a school with 96,000 square feet of core academic space; a field house; an auditorium with balconies; a pool; and indoor athletic facilities, among other things. On the district's wish list for outdoor athletic facilities: two football fields, one of them with a track; two soccer fields — one for games, one for practices; eight tennis courts; two baseball fields; and two softball fields.

— The final site will be decided by how each board member ranks a lengthy list of criteria. The rankings will be averaged to show which criteria are most — and least — important to the seven school board members.

The criteria, which haven't previously been revealed: accessibility to vehicles and emergency vehicles; how easy the land will be to build on; whether it has potential for expansion; whether gas, electricity, water, sewer and data are available at the property line; district transportation costs; pedestrian accessibility; compatible zoning; site clearing; whether any portion of the site is in a flood plain; whether it's located near two major streets; whether it's compatible with adjacent land uses; whether additional storm-water detention areas will be required; whether easements already exist that would make the site difficult to develop; whether road improvements not on the site will be required; and whether the site is near future residential developments.

— Once the site is selected, the school board will allow architecture firms that want the job to submit their credentials. Central students, faculty and staff members also will be allowed to give their ideas for what the new school needs. That feedback will drive both the building's design and how much money the school district asks taxpayers for.

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Lostinspace wrote on December 05, 2013 at 10:12 am

I guess I'm the only one to find this whole business outrageous.

sacrophyte wrote on December 05, 2013 at 1:12 pm

@lostinspace: actually, no, many of us do, but apparently we are not making enough noise for anyone to hear us.

Lostinspace wrote on December 05, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Is the noise making organized?  Comments here question the location, but seem to accept the idea(s) otherwise.

sacrophyte wrote on December 09, 2013 at 8:12 am

@lostinspace: know of anyone organizing? Although it is rather the 11th hour in terms of the BOE meeting, we have almost a whole year before the potential referrendum. An organized approach would be much appreciated.

 

-- charles schultz

airrecon wrote on December 05, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I guess a legitimate question to be asked here  would be regarding at what point transparancy  becomes a liability in the process of getting a fair price. I'm not sure that I feel everybody needs to know every detail about everthing.  But with all of the questionable machinations  that went on inside Unit 4 during the time that Culver was here, I am a bit suspicious.  I'm not sure that I believe that culture has really changed with a new administration.   

mrseeu2 wrote on December 05, 2013 at 9:12 pm

 They're going to have everything except the money to pay for all of this.  I for one will be voting against the board 's ridiculous plans.  Bring this high school into the main flow of the city or this is going to fail. Put this school at Country Fair and have the schools share new facilities.  We should be about educating our kids not all of this milllions upon millions of dollars of fancy facilities.  We're in a recession man, who has the money to foot your day dreams.  You do this for Central and who would want to go to Centennial, it would be totally 2nd class.  Let's do for both and of our schools.  

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on December 06, 2013 at 10:12 am
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I assume they'll change the name to Champaign Outskirts High, but I'd prefer Champaign Global Warming High myself.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 06, 2013 at 11:12 am

Didn't you attend Urbana High?

LocalTownie wrote on December 06, 2013 at 11:12 am

".....a field house; an auditorium with balconies; a pool; and indoor athletic facilities, among other things. On the district's wish list for outdoor athletic facilities: two football fields, one of them with a track; two soccer fields — one for games, one for practices; eight tennis courts; two baseball fields; and two softball fields."


Seems like just a bit much don't you all think? As a property owner in Champaign I sure as hell don't want to pay for that! Are we building a school or a resort here? Who the hell cares where it's located, it's overkill regardless. This town can't even afford the extravagant library we built.

Lostinspace wrote on December 07, 2013 at 11:12 am

Not happy with our own olympic village?

Trailmom wrote on December 09, 2013 at 11:12 am

If we build a new Central, "who will want to go to Centennial?"  When Centennial was built--it was the brand new building.  We can't not build a new facility just because it will make the other one look bad. 

I would love to see something closer to the middle of town to maintain the 'Central' feeling but unless the school district wants to buy and demolish a large number of homes, buildings, etc...it has to be located somewhere else.  They would have to buy every building between University and Church, from West Side Park to Prospect.  Can you think of any other location in town where that could happen?

I do agree that there is an over emphasis on athletic facilities in the new design plan. Hopefully they are giving the same consideration to things related to academics.