BOE meeting tonight, grassroots parent/teacher collabo, other news

Even though the Unit 4 schools are closed today, the BOE is still holding their “special” meeting tonight (“special” as in “every 4th week, a little more audience participation allowed”). Of course, there is Big News in that the Board is expected to disclose which property north of I-74 they intend to purchase for the new location of the high school; per Stephanie Stuart:

“Approval of Option and Contract Purchase Agreements for New High School Site” appears as item 8F on the attached agenda. District administration and board members will be available at Monday night’s meeting for comments/interviews regarding the new site.

 

A number of community folks, including Tod Satterthwaite, Patricia Avery, Minnie Pearson and Holly Nelson have stood up at board meetings in the past couple of months urging the board (in various tones *grin*) to carefully consider what a site north of I-74 will mean in the long run. There have been many questions about Country Fair, and Matt Foster responded quite thoroughly about why Country Fair would not work at the regular board meeting on Jan 13th. Personally, my issue with the whole thing is a lack of concrete facts, especially looking at the long-term. It seems that nobody knows for sure how much this is going to cost. Holly Nelson has done a good job to project possible transportation costs, but it seems that the Board is convinced those costs do not rule out a site north of I-74. Even MTD cannot tell us how much it will cost to bus students (and anyone else interested in going to school events).

 

I very much encourage you to attend tonight if you want your voice heard.

 

Additionally, there is a grassroots effort to bring parents, teachers and students together. From the CP4T facebook page:

“Our initial goal is to find ways to help empower parents with the education of their children. We are hoping to help build the communication between teachers and parents, and find ways to provide resources for parents. “

The next gathering will be February 6 at 6:30 pm, at the Champaign Federation of Teacher’s office located at 2902 Crossing Ct #B (look for the signs for Suite D – it is really close to that).

 

Finally, in other news:

  • PTA Forum tomorrow, Tuesday, January 28, 6:00 8:00 pm at the Champaign library to discuss transitions to Middle School (ie, from 5th to 6th grade). All are welcome. Sponsored by the South Side PTA.
  • The next (and first, since the other first one was cancelled) Schools of Choice Community Forum will be February 4th, at Barkstall Elementary School (2201 Hallbeck Drive in Champaign) at 6 p.m. All families with incoming kindergarten students are encouraged to attend.
  • Another “Community Conversation” with Dr. Wiegand; Sunday, Feruary 9th, 2:00 – 3:30 pm, at El Centro Romero (St. Mary’s Catholic Church), 612 E. Park St, Champaign.
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7 Responses to “BOE meeting tonight, grassroots parent/teacher collabo, other news”

  1. Cjwincu Says:

    The distance from Central High School to Olympian Drive and North Prospect avenue is 3 miles. 3 miles. Have we as a society become so sedentary that 3 miles constitutes sever issues of transportation ? Is there a notable difference between 1.5 miles andthree miles? I lived in Ashland Park and regularly drove downtown and all around town without any issues/increased cost.

    I just have to believe a new, modern, technology equipped high school with fields and space to grow and operate is worth 3 miles. Cause if its not, then it’s back to the dump of Central. And while there is nostalgia attached to it, if you travel and see other communities with less resources have much nicer high school facilities and by comparison the Central facility is a dump. 3 miles for new and modern or stay at the old and dumpy. Seems like an easy choice being made difficult

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      Keep in mind, it is not just any three miles. 🙂 There is this little road called I-74….. Oh, and this street called Prospect that is already way too overcrowded as it is. Unfortunately, the Federal “Safe Routes” program doesn’t “do” high schools, but I don’t think they would be able to come up with a “Safe Route” for residences south of I-74, except maybe via Market Street.

      At one point, the City put into my head “What if there was a walking bridge over I-74?” Fascinating idea, but I haven’t seen any more talk of it. There are lots of ways we can make things better. Let’s talk about that.

      • charlesdschultz Says:

        PS – you said I do too much talking in the past. 🙂 So now my goal is to find those facts that I want. Any help would be much appreciated. Trying to figure out what questions to ask…..

  2. Karen Says:

    @cj
    -What communities with less resources (do you mean tax-payer base?) have nicer high school facilities?
    -If Central is a dump, I wonder what Uni would be considered. Does the so-called ‘dumpiness’ of a school correlate highly with academic achievement?
    -Have you done (standard work time) morning commutes around here? You seem to base your time estimates of commuting on zero traffic.
    -If money were no object. Sure, it’s an easy choice. But, whose reality is that?! Not the majority of the tax-payer base here would be my guess. Money does not just come out of nowhere. It will be very difficult for many to pay their increased property taxes, particularly during these continued tough economic times and particularly when this hit for money will not be the last WRT Unit 4 schools.
    @charles
    -Frankly, I am stunned, that, apparently, nobody on the board has any objection to going forth with a site purchase with no solid numbers on final costs. It’s inexcusable to proceed in such a manner IMO. What kind of stewardship is that?

  3. Karen Says:

    If any board members wish to answer publicly (there’s no point asking this at a board meeting–they don’t answer back/there is no discussion):
    (1) (a)On a scale of 1(not)-5(extremely), how important would it have been for you to know estimated annual transportation costs associated with the various sites under consideration before making a final site selection?
    (1)(b)Did anybody push for more information and not accept a ‘we don’t know’ response from MTD? Reportedly they will be able to know after the site is selected. Would it have been money well-spent to have them do better/more engaged estimates before site selection?
    (2)(a)On a scale of 1(not)-5(extremely), how accessible will the new site be, particularly to those living in the near north (if you will) area of town?
    (2)(b)Have ongoing accessibility costs been factored into the budget in making this site selection decision?
    (2)(c)How does Dr. Taylor feel about the site selection from a social justice perspective? Did you consult with her about the accessibility implications of the various sites that were considered?
    (3) How did you decide on the amount of acreage you are seeking? It’s difficult to justify a cadillac budget in this tax-paying community. In the way that responsible people manage their finances, has the balance between wants vs. needs and budget constraints been respected?

  4. Cjwincu Says:

    The easiest path to thise sights are through Neil street, Interstate drive or Market Street. About 11% of Students walk to Central and that number continues to fall. Determining a high school location based on 11% being able to walk is not really productive. 3 miles by car or bus and its an easy drive.

    Drive time commute/traffic in Champaign ? LOL I’m sorry I lived there for 9 years recently and never saw anything that was more than 5-10 minutes tops.

    Look up Spirit Lake High School in Iowa, beautiful new school and facilities. An awesome looking school in a small bedroom community. I don’t need a study to tell me kids and teachers do better in modern facilities. Uni high is a private school that only accepts the best students and they have access to University facilities if needed.

    A new high school is gonna cost about $100 -$200 per year on an average house . That’s pretty much what most people in Champaign spend on alcohol in a month. But then again more parents go to tailgates and bars then parent student conferences at Central.

  5. charlesdschultz Says:

    Just FYI, the RPC reports do offer some facts as well as loosely fact-based subjective labels (ie, a vague “Friendliness” rating – although the correlation to facts is hard to make); I highly recommend the report that uses Central as a baseline, since it is MUCH more comprehensive:
    SiteEvaluation090413Central

    The other report uses Centennial as a baseline, but looks to me to be just a summary, not a full report (unlike the Central one):
    Unit4Presentation120213

    I am in talks with Tom Laue and Andrew Levy for my own self-education as I try to learn more about facts. I tried to find Cjwincu’s number of 11% walkers in these reports, but I could not. If I recall correctly, the number might be in a different report. Cjwincu, if you could quote your source, that would rock.


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