Benefit analysis of potential Central sites in early stages

Benefit analysis of potential Central sites in early stages

CHAMPAIGN — Superintendent Judy Wiegand called a new Central High School "a game changer for the community."

In the coming weeks, a team of local professionals will get to work on providing a more specific definition.

The MTD's community development staff and the University of Illinois' Urban and Regional Planning Department have begun designing what they call a "benefit cost analysis," detailing the likely direct and indirect costs to the community of the two sites under consideration over the next 30 years.

"While the district is charged with the ultimate responsibility to make this critical decision, it is well aware of the impact this potential siting has on the entire community," Wiegand said in making the announcement at Monday night's marathon of a school board meeting.

The news comes as the clock ticks closer to Aug. 17, the deadline for the school board to decide whether to ask voters to pay for a new high school — and likely, more — when they go to the polls on Nov. 4. First, however, board members must settle on a site — 80 acres of farmland at Neil Street and Interstate Drive or the plot that now includes Spalding Park and Judah Christian School?

The district's hope is that the newly unveiled group will have results of the study to the board sometime later this month, helping members reach a decision.

The group would analyze the long-range costs and benefits of both sites in a variety of areas — including mobility and access, health, infrastructure, social and educational equity issues, land values and taxes — MTD consultant David Foote told the board Monday.

"I don't really care where we educate our kids," board President Laurie Bonnett said. "We just need to educate our kids."

Other board members had mixed reaction to talk of another committee.

"This will help us make an educated decision on an important need, which is the high school," Kerris Lee said.

Countered John Bambenek: "We have generated and produced lots of reports and slaughtered small forests in our analysis of this."

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pattsi wrote on July 01, 2014 at 11:07 am

One can listen to a conversational exchange with Dan McCollum about the HS siting, recent phone survey, and additional proposed studies this morning on WDWS.  http://www.wdws.com/multimedia/podcast/penny-your-thoughts.html

A major point emphasized is the minimum considerations being given to the externalities and cost thereof if and when a site chosen outside the hub of the community will cost additionally to each and every tax payer, not just the amount of the bonds.

pattsi wrote on July 01, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I attended the school board mtg last night to hear the comments about SRO's because the issues raised fold into the discussion going on at the county level concerning community justice.

I did not know how much I would learn about siting the HS. Several learning points:

1. Based on the CUUATS transportation analysis, the amount of roads, roads reconstruction, and sidewalks that will need to be build is not being factored into the cost. These are huge costs let alone what covering more permeable surfaces add to stormwater management. This applies to both sites. And the northern site may possibility involve the county. Question--during this period and continuing periods of declining motor fuel tax revenues on all levels, where is this funding coming from?

2. Joe Williams, principle of Central, spoke then about his LTE in N-G as he did this morning on WDWS. The now message is that we are agnostic as to the siting of the new HS, but want an educational facility for our children with lots of bells and whistles. In all of the mtgs I have attend over the past two years connected with this issue including Mr. Williams comments, I have not heard one decision maker put on the table the issue as to what fwill the delivery of education be like in 1-5 decades? All of the planning and conversations are based on today's delivery methods, including projected student populations. But this will not be the case as we move faster and faster with technology and learn from all of the online delivery methods being explored and implemented in higher education. Is it not important that this be an integral part of the conversation. And a change in delivery methodology may have an impact as to how sports activities are configured and what entity supports such--maybe it will not be BOE's.