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Got a question about the future of Champaign public schools? Head here and fire away. We'll run the answers both in print and online.

Q: If Central High School moves from its longtime University Avenue home, what will happen to the athletic fields, court, gym and weight room named in honor of the Maroons' coaching greats?

Maroons athletic director John Woods wants a new building for his school. But no matter where Central's home address is, the former coaches won't ever lose their place in history, he vows.

Combes Gym, Cabutti Court, Tommy Stewart Fieldhouse, the Jeff Trigger Weight Room and others will continue — somewhere.

"Are those facilities named after those guys because they coached on (that) court or (that) field, or because of the impact and influence they had on Champaign High School?" Woods asked. "If it's the impact and influence they had on Champaign High School, those facilities must be named after those guys."

Is that the plan?

"Absolutely," Woods said.

The names remain the same, only the site may change.

"Harry started coaching at Edison," Woods said. "It's Combes Gym. It's Tommy Stewart Fieldhouse. It's Cabutti Court.

"Unless State Farm drops $80 million on us."


Q: What would building a new high school on 80 acres of farmland in northernmost Champaign mean to local agriculture, short term and long term?

There are several schools of thought in the agricultural community about this one.

The Champaign County Farm Bureau doesn't have a specific point of view on the proposed site at Neil Street and Interstate Drive, said President Lin Warfel.

"Our general position is to limit the use of farmland for housing and development, and so there is resistance to the expansion of the footprint of the city," Warfel said. "We look longingly at Portland, Oregon, and what they've done there, drawing a circle around the city and saying: We're going to live inside this ring.

"We're not against development, but we would like to see serious thought about the options. In this particular instance, it does look like there are better options within the city limits than moving out there on a large tract of farmland."

Another farmer, Doug Schroeder of Mahomet, said the site shouldn't be ruled out simply because it's farmland.

"My number-one thought is, property-owner rights are paramount," said Schroeder, the District 11 director for the Illinois Soybean Association. "I understand the issue of taking land out of production permanently, but the rights of the property owner would supersede those."

Schroeder said farmers are doing a better job of producing more with less.

Terra Brockman, founder of The Land Connection, said her organization views farmland as a precious and irreplaceable resource.

"Once it's paved over, it's paved over, and it will never be farmland again," she said. "A better use of that land might be to grow food for the community, while a better place for the new school might be in semi-abandoned or lesser-used areas near the center of the urban area so kids can actually walk to school and interact with all the things a downtown urban area has to offer."

Based in Champaign, The Land Connection is an educational organization, not a policy organization, Brockman said. One of its missions is protecting and enhancing farmland.