Champaign has other priorities

Champaign has other priorities

The question that you ask determines the answer that you get.

If you ask, "How do we replace Central High School?" the answer you get is the $149 million bond referendum voters are being asked to approve.

On the other hand, asking "What facilities do our students need?" leads you to a very different answer.

Driven by that question, replacing Dr. Howard, built in 1910, Edison Middle School (1914) and South Side (1924) should be urgent priorities; replacing Franklin Middle School (1953) should be on the calendar for soon. Can anyone seriously argue that these century-old facilities provide state-of-the-art learning environments?

Instead, the school board plans to do nothing for decades. Dr. Howard won't be replaced until 2025, the middle schools in 2034. Unless, of course, something changes over the next three decades.

I would ask the school board to rethink its facility plan, starting with basic assumptions that need to be challenged.

Why does Champaign need two high schools? One large campus would realize economies of scale in construction and operating costs. It might also create opportunities to replace the district's oldest facilities. For example, the vacated Centennial might be used to replace Edison and Franklin middle schools and, with expansion, Jefferson as well.

Though it saddens me, I can't support the current plan that deliberately kicks so many problems so far down the road. This approach is precisely why so many of our kids attend century-old schools.