Wiegand proud of 'legacy of excellence'

Wiegand proud of 'legacy of excellence'

CHAMPAIGN — Unit 4 Superintendent Judy Wiegand said she is proud of what she calls the district's "legacy of excellence" and optimistic about its future.

Wiegand presented her state of the district address to parents and community members Thursday at South Side Elementary School.

"When I began my role as superintendent two years ago, I worked with the board of education to develop a number of goals for myself and our schools," she said. "We have made some great progress in a number of areas and have built on those successes this school year. There is also important work to be done in the coming year."

Wiegand talked briefly about planning for a proposed November ballot question to raise taxes to help fund school facilities.

She also discussed "significant improvements" at Westview, Robeson, Bottenfield and Kenwood schools, with the work funded by the district's part of the 1 percent sales tax.

Other highlights of her address:

Dual-credit growth

Wiegand announced that the number of students receiving dual high school and college credit has nearly doubled in five years — from 75 in fall 2009 to 143 this year.

Early childhood

Wiegand touted the district's efforts to improve early childhood education, including a "Get Set for School Family Fun Night," a kindergarten readiness screening program and a summer literacy program.

Language education

Wiegand said the International Prep Academy will help students speak, read and write both English and Spanish and to understand two cultures.

"Math, social studies and science are taught in both Spanish and English," she said. "The classrooms have 50 percent native Spanish speakers and 50 percent native English speakers."

Computer science

The University of Illinois worked with Champaign schools to provide a three-week program for all freshmen at both high schools.

In addition, Unit 4 plans to implement new computer-science course proposals at Central and Centennial within the next two years.

Career exploration

Wiegand explained highlights of Unit 4's Career Cruising System, including a focus on early career development at Stratton Elementary School, the creation of career portfolios by all middle school students, Parkland career tours for eighth-graders and the use of college and career centers at both high schools.

Local trades have hosted middle and high school counselors to provide information about apprenticeship programs.

In addition, the Champaign County Economic Development Corp. organized two manufacturing roundtables. One of them included tours of Unit 4's industrial-technology facilities.

UI partnerships

She said the district has partnered with the University of Illinois to focus on community technology and literacy at Kenwood School, fine arts at Stratton School and literacy and math at Dr. Howard School.

Schools of choice

Another emphasis was improving residents' understanding of the Schools of Choice student-assignment process.

She said the district produced a "Welcome to Kindergarten" book, extended the registration period and offered "Choice Chats" to provide more one-on-one support for families.

Graduation rates

Wiegand reported that the rate for Champaign schools is 86.1 percent, including 78.3 percent among black students.

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