LIVE Champaign school board meeting
The board has concluded its business for the evening.
The board voted 6-1 to hire the firm of Gorski Reifsteck to provide architectural consulting services for the programming phase for the new high school and for work at Centennial. Stuckey voted no.
The contract is for $120,000.
There will be a separate bidding process for a firm for the final design of the new high school.
The school board has voted 7-0 to accept a bid from CSSC to sell the former Marquette School at 203 S. Fifth Street, Champaign, for $2,000,002.
Matt Foster said CSSC is a limited liability property firm.
The school board voted 7-0 to change the school calendar because of closings due to snow over the winter. The last day for students will be June 3 for the regular calendar and June 9 for the balanced calendar.
The school board voted 7-0 to appoint Mallory Morris as assistant principal at Stratton Elementary School.
Laurie Bonnett said there have been discussions about having a middle school or an elementary school along with Central at the new site on the north side of town.
"My Plan B would be portables. Just keep adding portables in front of schools.
"My Plan C would be eminent domain at the Champaign Country Club."
Board President Laurie Bonnett said she talked to staff members at Dr. Howard School about the facility's limitations.
People told her the building was falling apart, that some kids fell down stairs, that some rooms didn't have electrical sockets, and other problems.
"There are challenges at Edison and there are challenges at Centennial." she said.
Bonnett said she likes the idea of taking Dr. Howard to a new location.
"They certainly need more green space," she said. "I haven't fallen down the stairs, but it is a hodgebodge of nooks and crannies and doesn't serve our kids well."
She thinks Central would be a nice administrative center.
"My first concern is reducing our overhead costs," she said.
She said the staff at Edison told her they do not want to go to the Central building.
"There are some safety issues that we should be concerned about," she said. "It was dark and dingy in there. It was depressing to be in a room, and it was a sunny day."
She said she supports having a K-8 as a choice.
"I think trying a K-8 is a good thing," she said. "I think it is a good option to have."
Board member Jamar Brown said he also wants Dr. Howard moved to another site with more green space.
"We need bigger space," he said.
He also favors having a K-8 school.
"If it doesn't suit your fancy, then don't send your child to that school," he said. "But they should have an option."
He said Edison needs to be rebuilt at a new site.
He also favors consolidating some services at a centralized location, and he supports the idea of a career prep center.
"We can give students who choose not to go to a traditional four year college some kind of option," he said.
Ileana Saveley said she supports giving parents the choice to have a K-8.
Lynn Stuckey said people don't realize what Central does not have and what it should have at a new location.
She said the new site for Central needs to have the athletic facilities like Centennial has.
Stuckey said there definitely interest in having a K-8 school in Unit 4.
"I get a little frustrated with people who say we are changing too much too quickly," she said.
"When my son was in middle school, he had a different set of teachers each year," she said.
She says she would like to see Dr. Howard School in a new space.
Kristine Chalifoux said there is a need for a new Central High School.
She said there needs to be a conversation about vocational technical education in both high schools.
"My fear is, if we have one place for them to go, a lot of kids might not be able to take those classes," she said. "I think they should all have access."
She said a choice including K-8 is good.
"We need to do a lot of studying about how successful it is and whether it is really working," she said. "I like the K-8 model because our middle schools are too overcrowded.
"If we rebuild Edison, we need to build a really huge middle school," she said. "A K-8 takes up the slack for a period of time."
She supports keeping three middle schools, but adding space.
"Edison needs something. Do you renovate it in place, and build an addition to it, or build a new Edison? It will be cheaper to build a new Edison."
She said the new Edison needs to be built "where the kids are."
She said the extrerior walls are sinking at Dr. Howard School.
"I love Dr. Howard. I love the building, and I love having it there. It is time to do something else with it," she said.
Kerris Lee said he supports a new high school.
"It needs to be resolved," he said.
He also supports building a new Dr. Howard School.
"I know we need to build a new Edison and getting that in place," he said.
He also supports having a K-8 option.
"I think the live/work aspect is interesting and should be looked at," he said.
He favors having career/tech at both high schools.
John Bambenek said he hopes the district provides lots of information about how and why it makes its decision.
"While people ask what is Plan B, I'm not sure we have a Plan A yet," he said.
He said there are strong reasons academically why private schools often opt for K-8 education, so he said an K-8 option should be considered.
He said opinion polling will be important as the district makes its decision.
"We need to start solidifying what our plan is," said board member Kristine Chalifoux.
Board member Jamar Brown stressed that no decision has been made.
Superintendent Judy Wiegand tells the board that the administration is recommending components from three "scenarios" for school buildings in the Champaign school district. These proposals are Scenarios 1, 8 and 9.
"These three scenarios all have components that the board should consider," she said.
Both 1 and 8 were also recommended by the facilities committeee.
She said the administration does not recommend relocating Edison to Central.
She said Edison should be built at a new site.
She said administration recommends that Dr. Howard not be re-built on site.
While the committee did not recommend option 9, she said the administration thinks it should be considered because it talks about combing programs to reduce operational costs for the district by closing Mellon and Columbia and putting those programs at Central.
"In moving forward, there should be consideration for at least one K-8," she said.
She recommends holding public forums on K-8.
She said that public opinion polling will take place to find out what registrered voters think about the direction of the schools. Details about the public polling will be shared at a future public meeting, Wiegand said.
She said the board is committed to having some plan for Central. One option would be to sell it. A second option would be to keep it for programs. A third option would be a hybrid of the other two options.
"I believe it is important that the board communicates to the community what the plan will be," she said.
School board President Laurie Bonnett said the school board has been talking about options for Central High School for a long time.
Representatives from the PTA Council thank Superintendent Judy Wiegand for her recent "state of the district" address.
The school board and the audience are viewing a video highlighting the school district's "diverse student population."
The board is back into open session.
We have about 30 audience members who have turned out for the meeting.
The school board has gone into closed session.
After notifying incoming kindergarten families of their school assignments for the 2014-15 school year, district officials reported that 98.5 percent of families applying received one of their top five choices.
This year 681 applications were made for school requests.
Of those 671 students have been assigned to a kindergarten seat for this fall.
The remaining 10 families were contacted individually to be placed and provided with wait list options.
Overall 88.7 percent of the applicants got their first choice for school assignment.
Another 4.5 percent got their second choice, 4 percent received their third choice, 1.8 percent received their fourth choice and 0.9 percent got their fifth choice.
“We are pleased with the results of this year’s student assignment process,” said Assistant Superintendent Susan Zola, who oversees the Schools of Choice process. “From the number of families who received their first choice to the reduction of unassigned families, this year we saw some improvements. A concerted effort was made this year to make the process easier to understand and to make the experience more family-friendly.”