Collaboration and compromise

Recently, Kathy Richards presented her petition to the Board (Nov 10 BOE meeting). I have been waiting for it to pop up on Vimeo, but I might just try to record it off CGTV 5 at some point. Maggie Hockenberry of WCIA caught up with Kathy and interviewed her yesterday:


I think one thing Ms. Hockenberry perhaps missed is that a vast majority of us support the school district regardless of the referendum, there are just details about the referendum that we disagree about. For some it is location, others it is Dr. Howard, and a whole bunch of other reasons are thrown in the cart.


A recent twitter thread evolved into a sort of a challenge, calling folks to get together and hammer this thing out; Park district, city council, MTD, CCRPC, the YES Committee, those who voted “no”, UIUC students urban planning, LA, ARCH, NRES…. I am sure we could pile on more. Obviously, we should have done this two years ago. But here we are.


I don’t know how else to say this, but perhaps we should in a sense just shut up about it and start “doing”. For those that support the referendum but are willing to look at other options, can we open up the box and think about sites that are smaller than 47 acres? For those that opposed the referendum, find a site that works and meets all the needs of the district (sans 47 acres). Pattsi has one idea that we need to flesh out a bit more. Others have re-suggested Spalding/Judah. It is not enough to say that Interstate Drive is bad for this and that reason; we need to go beyond that and come up with a real, practical solution. And we will have to compromise – it has been said a bajillion times “there is no perfect site.” So we need to prioritize and figure out what we really need. What are the non-negotiables? We have to be willing to give up some things, on both sides of the fence, to focus on what is really important.


From my point of view, the biggest driver is sheer capacity. If we reduce the number of children that are jammed-packed into the current buildings, we solve a lot of problems just with that alone. I agree, there are still other ramifications that need to be addressed. So let us stop talking and start addressing. Pattsi, when is our first charrette scheduled for? 🙂


11 Responses to “Collaboration and compromise”

  1. Rebecca Patterson Says:

    The one thing about this whole process was it seemed like trying to find what was most popular and not what we needed. Questions like do you like one big school or two should be off the table. What’s better for the kids within our budget? Let’s get creative.

  2. pattsi Says:

    I will rise to the challenge–right after the first of the year–have in hand a gym space, rolls of news print paper, bags of colored pens, borrowed children’s building blocks, someone who is willing to tape together sheets of news print so the district can be outlined including where all the schools are located and streets and then taped onto the gym floor, invite the public to physically come and drawn and move building blocks to actually visualize what different locations means related to walkability, connectivity, transportation, integrated education, size of HS, and all of the other issues people have mentioned, written about, and those that have not yet been verbalized. I will teach people how to do this. And then let the community citizens express themselves visually. Who will join in?

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      So how about two or three Saturdays, maybe Jan 3, 10 and 17? I actually have a roll of newsprint paper with no ink on it that I can donate, might be good for one floor on one day. I’ll start hunting around for gym space – if anyone else has any bright ideas for a gym space, please chime in.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      What time of day? 10:00 am? 1:00 pm?

      • pattsi Says:

        3 Jan may be too early. Are the K-12 schools back in session then? UIUC is not. Other dates are good. Depending on basketball games or other athletic events, first priority is 1-4:30 P. It is snowy, cold, and dark fairly early in the evening. I would like to hear from others.

  3. pattsi Says:

    Ask the N-G to donate end rolls of news print and ask if we can use their space out on Apollo if a centralized gym can not be found.

  4. Jeff Says:

    I continue to appreciate the forum and it appears that this group in a general sense is more con than pro as related to the current proposal and referendum. I guess continued discussion may be appropriate but many of the groups have previously participated in these discussions. I have attended some that included presentations at the I–Hotel to meetings at Mellon. These were all Open Meetings and many of the ideas that are now criticized were vetted and the final formulation of the referendum was based on this input.

    Also, I guess I’m not sure what is in the interest of many of the above referenced public bodies to meet again-and-again. The outcome only causes some to direct ‘ill-will’ at entities that really do not have much if any fiduciary interest or expectations for their organization. For example, look at the bad press, letters to the editor, etc., directed to the Park Dist. because they will not sell/give up Dodd’s Park which seems to have some support. The Dodd’s family has even been personally criticized for not encouraging the sale of the land with their ‘name’ on it to all for a new HS. (As a side note, I continue to see a great many issues with that site but that is discussion for another day.) So, if you or someone can pull off a meeting with these representatives, that would be great, I’m just not sure that without an actual proposal, etc., that they would have much/any interest to meet, again. This is a Unit 4 issue though it may ultimately have some overlap that can touch some of the other groups that you mention it is not their issue.

    Further, though I again appreciate the sentiment, why do we want to spend time discussing sites that don’t have the 45-50 acers as a base that Unit 4 and the consultants have suggested? The reason we have the major issue and controversy is that for over 50 years we as Unit 4 (Champaign residents) have not been willing to solve the facilities and issues. There are none of the space issues as related to the Centennial part of the project because 50 years ago there was forward thinking to build a HS on the edge of town where the building/facilities continue to grow change/expand. Why do we want to spend millions upon millions of dollars on the current Central and/or a Spaulding or similar site, that doesn’t finally address the inequitable facilities issues? If we don’t address it now we are just leaving it to be discussed by our children/grandchildren to ‘fight’ about the same topic.

    At least on this forum there also seems to be some sense of three HS which I think at this point is untenable. As previously stated 3 schools means three complete sets of faculty/staff/administrators/special ed, etc., etc. I just don’t see how we can afford this option. Also, at the forum I attended at the I-Hotel one of the major themes was two HS structure was the ‘will of the people’ at least with that banquet room full of citizens.

    I do not believe that a community of our size and stature should be concerned and having such construction over having and equipping two HS with well purposed academic and extracurricular facilities. It has been 50 years since the last foray into upgrading the HS structure, it seems we as a community should not be embarrassed to ask for some basic educational facilities.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      Jeff, thanks for dropping by again – I appreciate your perspective and that you take the time to elaborate your point of view. I only have time for a very quick response, but I will get back with more later.

      By way of observation, the referendum did not pass. So no matter how much talking we already did, no matter how much real “engagement” there was, no matter what already transpired and who was involved, no matter that we paid over $200,000 for consultants to help smooth the way, close to half the voters said “no” and close to half said “yes” to the referendum, with just a few more saying “no”.

      Like I said, more later.

      • pattsi Says:

        The referendum failed. The issue becomes by what degree. Those beginning the process of analyzing the voting results precinct by precinct are beginning to bring to light the question about the student dominated votes for the referendum This is from the perspective as to whether these individuals understand what the referendum means for the taxpayers, that the students come and go and will these same students vote in a consolidated election, April 2015. If one takes away 50% of the “yes” vote in the student dominated precincts, then the vote differential shifts and tells a different story.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      Jeff, I promised a more robust response – I only apologize that it has taken this long.

      I am going to try to address the root of what I think you are trying to say, and we can address externalities after that. Jeff, you seem to be in alignment with the district’s perspective that “the will of the people” spoke during the Dejong-Richter dialogues (of which you mentioned I-Hotel as an example), and that “the will of the people” want 45+ acres and two high schools (renovated and new construction). If this is “the will of the people”, why did the referendum not pass? That does not add up for me, and I think that is the crux of the current problem – we do not know what the will of the people is simply because the people are very divided; some want and love the Interstate Drive site, others want to see a high school south of I-74; some want one high school, some want two, some want three; some want more focus on maintaining facilities rather than building brand-spanking new all the time; some love the referendum, some hate it, all for various reasons. We lack unity on this topic, so what exactly *IS* the will of the people?

      And here is where it gets fun. You said “it seems we as a community should not be embarrassed to ask for some basic educational facilities.” I assume you have glanced at all the previous referenda the school district has floated. According to several interviews (tv, newspaper), comments here on this blog and through my own conversations, I know that among those that voted “no” a few weeks ago, a good chunk of them are very willing to invest their tax dollars into school buildings – it is not a problem of asking nor of wanting. It is something else entirely.

      So the big question boils down to “what is it then?” Denise Martin and Dan Ditchfield (co-chairs of the Friends of Champaign Schools) told me that it comes down to a trust issue. And maybe that is still true. Let us assume for a moment that this is actually the rock-bottom truth; if so, in your opinion Jeff, what is the best way to address the “trust issue”? Is it so simple as fixing the trust issue and then magic will happen?

      Obviously, we will have to make compromises. Nicole Lafond of the News-Gazette wrote an article today that shows us that Unit 4 may “tweak” their plans to include a K-8 Dr. Howard. Again, some people are going to love that and some will hate it. How do we acknowledge our disagreements but yet form enough consensus to move forward? In the end, I believe the bigger problem is that “the people” do not properly “own” the school district; according to the school district’s own Board Policy 105 THE PEOPLE AND THEIR SCHOOL DISTRICT, “(t)he public schools belong to the people.” (see more: Mantra: THE PEOPLE AND THEIR SCHOOL DISTRICT)

      Unfortunately, I do not have answers to these questions. My point in asking them is to open the door of deliberation. And I appreciate that you, Jeff, are willing to state an opinion that is different than mine. I constantly encourage folks like you to speak up on this blog. Thanks.

  5. Chuck Jackson Says:

    The need for conversation is questioned and presented in the same post above. @Jeff thinks that things are obvious and there is no need to further question certain points (like the acreage determination, that new is better than old, three high schools, etc.) Obviously since people keep bringing them up they are not settled.

    I attended every “public engagement” opportunity offered excepting the one at Franklin. The flaw in all of them was the lack of dialog. In many of them there was not opportunity to respond except through writing. When public engagement doesn’t include an opportunity for the administration and BOE to listen, it isn’t engaging the public. Without a sense of being heard, people need to continue to speak. It is not possible to quell the dissent without it being heard except through dictates and that is the feeling many have. They “shoved this down our throats” is an expression of being excluded from the process. Regardless of whether the end result is different, the process matters and the process has not been appropriate.

    I agree, there is a fatigue for meetings. At the same time, how do we make the meetings productive rather than one sided? Once individuals and groups see that there is something to be gained by attending (and group consensus is of real value, I don’t mean selfish gain) then I think there will be a renewed interest in engagement.

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