David Sholem’s email, Oct 1 2014, Chamber 6

Craig:

You are not giving Neil credit for the school projects in which he has been involved and you are missing the point:

1. The Board of Education should be reaching out to professionals like Neil Strack who are volunteering their time to offer assistance, rather than unfairly attempting to criticize their qualifications and attempting to claim good questions are not well-founded. Neil clearly has school construction experience and he is a well-respected, senior architect in Champaign-Urbana.

2. Neil Strack has consistently been denied adequate information by Unit 4  to evaluate the new high school proposal and compare it with more economical, better located options. I recently requested, by email to the Superintendent, permission for Neil Strack to meet with the Unit 4 architects, but that request, fell on deaf ears.

3. We all want improved Unit 4  facilities, but the Board of Education has not properly explored less expensive alternatives such as (a) the development of larger footprint for the existing Central HS campus, utlizing Park Street and the McKinley YMCA block which should be available via condemnation for approximately $500,000 and (b) the creation of a city-wide Champaign High School on the Jefferson/Centennial campus. I also believe the Judah Christian/Spalding Park site was inadequately analyzed and explained to the neighbors and the public.

4. A financial plan has not been developed by Unit 4  to explain how the middle school and Dr. Howard Elementary School facilities problems will be addressed even if $150 mm is spent on the high schools. The impression has been created that Unit 4 will turn again to the taxpayers for more taxes to fund remaining facilitities needs, even if the $150 mm bond referendum is passed. We deserve better government.

5. The Board of Education and Unit 4 administration have been consistently attempting to discredit excellent alternatives to the northern high school because Unit 4 is “pregnant” with its northern site. Unfortunately, they have placed the cart ahead of the proverbial horse.

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