Another HS referendum option to consider

The details are not yet public, but according to the agenda published by Unit 4, it looks like the board is chewing on an another option for the voting public (and the newly formed Special Board Committee to Develop Facility Plan) to consider: refurbishing and expanding Central HS at its current location.

 

Please note that none of these details are set in stone by any means; they are just ideas, options for us all to consider. Board President Chris Kloeppel mentioned to me that he talked to several land owners in the area around Central, and to his surprise found that with only a few willing sellers, Unit 4 could easily expand the footprint of Central to the north, with cooperation and blessings from the City to close off Park Street and maybe even create a foot bridge over Church Street. This certainly opens up a number of ideas in regards to what can be done at the existing location, and keeps the Interstate Drive area essentially as a land-bank, or even possibly as one way to consolidate outdoor facilities for Central. Again, just ideas. Hopefully a map will be made available soon. And I expect Nicole Lafond and others will be getting a word in with Mr. Kloeppel as well. (UPDATE: Lafond’s article is now online: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2016-01-23/new-options-agenda.html)

 

I am lead to believe that the Board and Unit 4 administration have been approaching this carefully and ethically, talking to interested parties and addressing legal issues with the intent of making this option public at the Jan 25th Board meeting. As such, I believe that steps have been taken to legally secure an agreement with some of the various landowners in the suggested area. In fact, look at the Jan 25 agenda items:

D. Approval of Real Estate Purchase Contract – 711 Sherwood Terrace: Tom Lockman 

 

E. Approval of Real Estate Option Agreement – 603 W. Church Street, 606 W. Park Street, 201 N. Lynn Street, and 203 N. Lynn Street: Tom Lockman 

 

F. Approval of Real Estate Option Agreement – 605 W. Hill Street and 602 W. Church Street: Tom Lockman  

 

G. Approval of Real Estate Option Agreement – 500 W. Church Street and 606 W. Church Street: Tom Lockman   

 

In the end, the district has a strong desire to address the very serious and real needs of the physical buildings; the whole maintenance issue has been “kicked down the road” for far too long, and now the price of fixing buildings has snowballed. There is also an oft-repeated need for “capacity planning”, and we have frequently been told of the dire need to create more learning spaces as we are currently over capacity in our high schools, and quickly nearing capacity in other buildings. It seems like such an option is meant as a way to address all these concerns and make a future referendum more acceptable to voters.

 

One thing I hear others asking, which I would ask myself, is “what is the plan to make sure we don’t end up in this position again?” What are we going to do differently so that maintenance is not deferred to such an extreme in the future? It would be my expectation that the new special board facility committee will tackle that one.

 

UPDATE: According to twitter, Nicole’s article about this new option is on the front page of Saturday’s paper. It is not yet online.

Another email discussion thread about HS siting and the #unit4ref

I sent an initial email to the “Friends of Champaign Schools” and “Keep Central Central” committees, asking that they set up a panel/debate/forum between their two groups. The thread kind of took on a life of its own, and I feel that enough of it is relevant and contains important considerations for the wider audience to chew on, if you feel so inclined to read a little bit. I wish these email tennis matches were in a completely different medium, since email tends to be very tediuous to piece together and make into a nice page.

 

https://thecitizen4blog.wordpress.com/misc/emails-to-askchallenge-yes-vs-no-committees-on-unit-4-referendum/

 

I also hope that the folks engaged in this email exchange take it to the next level and actually have a public forum of some sort.

Another alternative to Interstate Drive

Seth Fein at SmilePolitely has put up an alternative site location for the new Central High School at Beardsley Park:

http://www.smilepolitely.com/splog/is_this_infill_design_of_beardsley_park_what_unit_4_has_been_waiting_for/

 

champaign_central_high_school_concept_-800x400

 

I imagine there will be more discussion over there than here. Next stop, let’s here what board members are saying. 🙂

 

Like Seth, there are a lot of things I like about it, while also acknowledging that it ain’t perfect. These are the kinds of things I wish the community could vett – let’s put several alternatives to the vote and see what people really want.