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."