NG Editor speaks up about the high school siting issue

First, read Mr. Dey’s article:

Update: Also ChamabanaMoms is asking the same question:

And be sure, Unit 4 has already ramped up the “sell”; all the amazing videos coming out, the quotes from current students, reports from current high school officials… I am not saying these are bad things, my point is to acknowledge that work has already started to get people in a favorable mood for passing a tax referrendum. It makes a lot of sense from the school district point of view.

And then we have a number of folks who are giving public comments at board meetings. My hat is off to them for taking the time to attend board meetings and make their voices heard. Tod Satterthwaite has spoken a few times in the past few weeks, members of the Ministerial Alliance and representatives of the NAACP have voice grave concerns, Holly Nelson has spoken against the current direction, as well as other various members of the community that I am not familiar with; all these citizens are saying they do not like the idea of a school north of I-74. I wish the board would react more publicly to all these people. Granted, Jamar has responded directly to a couple points (ie, explaining why Country Fair didn’t work out), but so far, the board has not released a scorecard of all sites, weighing out the various metrics for each site. Even the RPC “analysis” of the various sites that was published late on boarddocs gives only a cursory glance at how schools measure up in travel costs. And why is Centennial used as a baseline? That confuses me to no end – why is not Central used as a baseline if that is the school we are replacing? The lack of trust-building does not bode well.

It looks like the board is set to move on purchasing land north of I-74. That will be another argument used in favor of the tax referrendum (“we already have the land, now we have to build the school”). There was a rush to buy the land because the district wanted to fulfill the Promise Made of using the 1% Sales Tax for that purpose. Yet, it is up to the voters to decide if we want to build a high school north of I-74 or not.

To that end, I would propose that more of us taxpayers make the board know what our thoughts are. Writing letters to the Board, writing letters to the NG, attending board meetings, etc. Whether you are in favor of or opposed, and why. Perhaps more importantly, those of us who have already made known our opinions need to urge others who have hertofore been quiet to speak up. I’ll write my own letter to the NG to reflect what I have said here.

As Mr. Dey has said, this isn’t the only tax that is hitting us. “For those who haven’t been paying attention, local taxing bodies are dramatically increasing their property tax levies. Champaign schools alone increased their levy this week by more than $3 million, up to $82.7 million, and then there are the parks, the city, the mass transit district. These taxing bodies are going for taxpayers’ jugular veins and striking a gusher.” Not to mention that just recently administrators and administrative support all received a raise “in line with the CFT negotiations”. I have asked for and have yet to receive a plan for how the teacher and CESP raises (a 3-year contract) will be paid for without digging into the surplus that Gene Logas worked so hard to build up. And now to add the new raises on top of that.

We need more numbers. While the usual rifraff (*grin* – don’t take it personally, I would consdier myself in this group) will keep squeaking, we need more people to chime in.

Are you for or against a tax referrendum to build a high school north of I-74? Why?

5 Responses to “NG Editor speaks up about the high school siting issue”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    Adding a link for ChambanaMoms which is also asking about this:

    Probably will find questions on Facebook and Twitter, too.

  2. Karen Says:

    FYI, if you read more than 8 articles a month of the NG you have to purchase an online subsrciption (for $8/month or something). So, many people likely cannot read your linked up article. I know it’s not part of my budget.

    I suppose the realty? firm hired by Unit 4 to direct this siting project had no self-interest in the development of the land north of I-74 or anything. No housing development interests or anything like that, right?

    Where’s the transparency, Jamar? You specifically stated (Monday’s board meeting) that the board is against a lack of transparency and that’s not what is going on. Well, from the outside, that statement doesn’t seem to really fly.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      Correction: You can read more than 8 articles and pay $0 if you disallow cookies to be set. This is what I do. But I agree, it is a pain.

      FYI – I have another post coming either tonight or tomorrow; I had a great talk with Jamar Brown earlier today, and I finished watching the December 9th BOE meeting.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      Actually, Jamar responded directly to the issue of the firm that was hired by saying they hired Gorski-Reifsteck because they were NOT in real estate, for the specific purpose of not having a conflict of interests.

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    Here is an example of the “scorecards” that the board has been going over with DLR and Gorski-Reifsteck (also newly posted on the December 9th Boarddocs meeting agenda):

    I have asked that the collected and weighted information gathered for all sites be shared out publicly. It will be interested to see if/how the Board responds.

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