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School board elections vital

Area superintendents’ case for increased local and presumably superintendent control of education was a right step — raising this perennial issue — but in the wrong direction — discouraging citizens from voting to elect school boards because, ostensibly, school boards don’t have much power.

Elections of school boards do matter. Recall that a trifecta of formidable obstacles that had to be surmounted to bring the Champaign K-12 school infrastructure into the 21st century and “keep Central central.”

First, the school board, which proposed a new high school north of the city, had to be voted out to prevent urban sprawl and the decay of the central-city community. Traffic jams at rush hour were also likely in getting students to class through the Prospect mall tangle.

Second, a new school board had to be elected to design a comprehensive infrastructure plan for the entire school district, including stakeholder inputs.

Third, scores of volunteers had to be mobilized to personally explain to skeptical voters the merits of the school board’s imaginative plan to enhance the education of all K-12 students. By a two-thirds majority, Champaign citizens approved the bond sale and the school board plan. Citizens and the school board displayed telling muscle at the local level to get their way.

One might have expected the superintendents to tell us what they would do with more power to improve the educational opportunities of students throughout the state.



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