Keep Central Central pushes for forum on Unit 4 ballot issue

Keep Central Central pushes for forum on Unit 4 ballot issue

CHAMPAIGN — Expressing disappointment over Unit 4's apparent disinterest in participating in a forum organized by the League of Women Voters, members of Keep Central Central are proposing Champaign school officials take part in another independently organized discussion.

At a news conference this morning at the Champaign Public Library, members of the citizen's group said they'll formally propose holding a forum on Unit 4's ballot question asking for $144 million to pay for school construction and building improvements.

"I think it is really important to have an opportunity to discuss this openly," KCC member Prue Runkle said Sunday.

Runkle said KCC was moved to call for an independently run forum after learning about the League of Women Voters' lack of success in organizing such an event.

Champaign County League of Women Voters President Barb Wysocki confirmed Sunday that her organization had proposed holding a forum on the issue.

"I reached out early in February to Keep Central Central and put forward an invitation for them to provide a spokesperson to speak about why the referendum should be turned down. They definitely were interested," Wyscocki said."Then I reached out to Unit 4, both to the administration and to the school board, and said we would be willing to do a forum if they could provide a spokesperson to speak on behalf of the referendum. To be honest, I never heard back from them."

Members of Keep Central Central emailed invitations to all seven school board members Wednesday and delivered a paper copy of a letter to the Mellon Administration Building on Thursday formally calling for a forum.

The invitation, a copy of which was obtained by The News-Gazette, began: "The Champaign community will be voting on one of the most controversial referendums on April 7, 2015. In order to facilitate a better understanding by the public of the complicated wording of the ballot question, the Keep Central Central group invites the Unit 4 Board of Education to participate in a forum discussion."

It goes on to say: "Our children deserve the best from this community. The quality of the schools they attend are critical to reaching a goal of excellence. Allowing community members open access to the ongoing discussions regarding the Unit 4 referendum is the best option for all to make an informed vote on April 7, 2015."

The request asks Unit 4 to accept or reject the invitation by Tuesday.

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