Champaign schools panel offers 3 options for K-8 buildings

CHAMPAIGN— Now that the Champaign school board has settled on its proposal to build a new Central High School on the north side of the city, board members have turned their attention to what they would like to see for K-8 students.

After looking at as many as 18 different configurations on how to house K-8 students when and if the new Central High School is built, a facilities committee that has been studying the issue has narrowed the options to three scenarios.

All three options call for closing the Dr. Howard School and Edison Middle School buildings.

Matt Foster, district executive director of business services; committee member and Savoy Village Trustee Joan Dykstra and Sam Johnson of consultants BLDD Architects presented what they called the three final options to the school board at its meeting on Monday night.

A facilities committee made of teachers, principals, business professionals, parents and a student have been meeting over the past several months to narrow the choices and made its recommendations to the board.

Dykstra said the committee opted against some options that included creating four different K-8 schools.

“One K-8 seemed like something the community would really want to have,” Dykstra said. “But four K-8s might be a bridge too far.”

The first option, known as scenario 1, would give Unit 4 three middle schools and one K-8 school.

The option calls for building a new Dr. Howard School at a different location from the current school. It recommends converting Barkstall Elementary School from a K-5 facility into a K-8 building with 225 middle school students.

In addition, when Central High School moves to its proposed new site, the old Central building would be converted into the new home of Edison Middle School as well as a proposed 400-student career prep academy.

Stephanie Stuart, public information officer for Unit 4 schools, said a career prep academy is a school that emphasizes technical offerings (such as welding, automotive work and wood shop) and provides students with the practical skills needed for careers in the trades.

Other schools would also undergo some renovation work under all three options.

The second option, known as scenario 8, also opts for three middle schools and one K-8 school.

This option calls for rebuilding a new Dr. Howard School on its current site and expanding Barkstall from a K-5 school to K-8, also with 225 middle school students.

Instead of moving Edison’s students to the old Central building, Unit 4 would construct a new Edison Middle School big enough to accommodate 750 students.

The old Central building would be renovated into the career prep academy, but about 130,000 square feet of it would be demolished.

The third option, known as scenario 12, retains the current three middle school system, and no new construction would be needed at Barkstall. A new Dr. Howard

School would be built away from its current site.

Additions would be made to both Franklin and Jefferson middle schools so both could accommodate more students.

Edison would be relocated to the old Central High School, which would also host the career prep academy.

Some of the other schools would also be renovated as well.

The final decision on whether to approve one of these options or another one altogether will be up to the school board at a later date.

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):Education

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