Cost breakdown for Champaign high school work on way
CHAMPAIGN — If you're wondering what $150 million will buy for Champaign's two high schools, you can find out Monday night.
Questions? We'll answer them here
School district officials say they will present a breakdown of the costs for construction of a new Central High School and renovation of Centennial High School at Monday night's school board meeting, when they'll also approve the final wording for a Nov. 4 ballot question asking voters to approve money for the projects.
A tentative resolution reviewed in late July called for up to $150 million. Administrators said the total includes $98 million to build a new Central at Interstate Drive and Neil Street, plus $52 million to renovate Centennial.
School officials initially offered to share more details about those costs this week, but Superintendent Judy Wiegand said Tuesday they would wait to present the information at Monday's meeting.
"(A)ny questions can be addressed at that time," Wiegand said in an email to The News-Gazette. She said district residents with questions in the meantime can contact her, community relations coordinator Stephanie Stuart or board President Laurie Bonnett.
Stuart said officials are still refining the numbers.
"The district really wants to present all of the information in the context of all of the work that's taken place to arrive at this point," Stuart said.
"We would hate to share something that's preliminary that would confuse the issue on Monday," she said. "This is such an important issue."
School board member John Bambenek said a 15- to 20-minute presentation is planned that should answer most questions.
"I think it's just a situation of making sure that it's right, that there's no errors, and going over it to make sure there's no confusion," he said.
"This is a big ask. A lot of this process has caused some unnecessary confusion. We want to be sure that we have the most accurate picture we paint when we present this to the public."
What if questions are raised about the costs after the final amount for the referendum is approved?
Bambenek said the district doesn't have to spend the full $150 million, even if voters approve that amount. A successful referendum would merely allow borrowing up to that amount, he said.
"That number is not a spending target," but an estimate, Bambenek said, adding that he will be looking for ways to cut costs. "There's nothing to say we need to max out the credit card if we can get the job done for less."