Oct 19th BOE special meeting: Advisory questions #futurefacilities #taxref

Looks like the Board is planning to talk about Advisory questions on a future ballot:

The option of placing advisory questions on an upcoming election ballot to obtain feedback from voters on possible facility options will be discussed by the Board of Education.  Discussion will focus on what is legally allowed, format options, and the benefits and challenges of this approach.

Included is a document of dates listing when resolutions/ordinances have to pass in order to appear on a ballot:

http://www.boarddocs.com/il/champil/Board.nsf/files/A3APBV51728C/$file/Future%20Election%20Deadlines.pdf

I believe the context for this discussion is the Big Talk about future facilities and how to fund capital expenditures in regards to a possible new high school and maintenance for other schools. I like the idea of advisory questions, and I hope that if they are utilized, they prove very informative. This also tells me that the board really is trying hard to figure out how to listen to the entire community. Ultimately, this is our tax dollars we are talking about, regardless of whether you have kids in the system or not; everyone should and does have something to say.

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Aug 24th BOE meeting (with new “candid conversation”)

Just dashing off a quick post here, but last night’s meeting was certainly intersting. The News-Gazette’s Nicole Lafond has a couple articles, one from the meeting itself, one from others who were not able to make it:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-08-25/enrollment-increase-spurs-unit-4-facilities-talks.html

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-08-25/just-1-question-top-priority-unit-4.html

The district also posted a Vimeo video of the entire thing so you can watch it yourself, and I imagine the live-typing notes will be available in the very near future (probably already is online, just have to find it).

Lots was said, and there will be more. One thing that stuck out to me is that the board is going to try to host a moderated forum for Q&A with the community. They will start by asking that community members send email to u4boe@champaignschools.org, and they will then post those on a forum where they will respond. I imagine that will evolve – almost seems like it would be better to have a truly moderated forum and just bypass the email. But we will see.

More to come.

UPDATE: Live notes posted, via the new U4 Board Corner blog:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7NP1K1OYcJOTXhzTTA1blMwSHc/view

The pressure is on for Dodds Park

Just making note of conversations about Dodds Park recently. First, here is John Foreman’s Sunday article:

John Foreman: Dodds site makes the most sense

Next, here is a small portion of just one Twitter thread:

https://twitter.com/chambanalaura/status/564427275362258946

In that thread, I posted a copy of the Deed I have, plus draft versions of potential soccer fields at Interstate Drive which I received last year:

https://thecitizen4blog.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/dodds-park-deed.pdf

https://thecitizen4blog.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/interstatedrive_soccer_fields_1.jpg

https://thecitizen4blog.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/interstatedrive_soccer_fields_2.jpg

I am sure there will be more.

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UPDATE: There is now a petition active:

https://www.change.org/p/citizens-for-new-central-hs-at-dodds-new-central-hs-at-dodds-park?just_created=true

UPDATE 2: CPD says they will talk about Dodds:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-02-10/park-board-discuss-dodds-home-new-central.html

food for discussion: prioritize low-ses access to new Central

What if, whenever and wherever we build a new Central, what if we as a community and a school district prioritized all forms of access such that any child on the free and reduced lunch program could readily take advantage of the new facilities and resources. Let me be clear, by all forms of access, I mean the following:

  • All children on the free and reduced program, with the one and only limitation being sheer capacity regardless of other quotas, will have automatic priority to enroll at the school
  • Whenever school is in session, not only will the child have ready transportation at the beginning and end of school, but transportation will also be available for extra-curricular programs at the school, as well as transportation for parents/guardians for conferences
  • Options to participate remotely, not only making the educational materials available online, but actively assisting in the home networking solutions

 

In some ways, you might be thinking “sure, this is all nice and pie-in-the-sky, but impractical and too expensive”. Perhaps if that is your response, we need to rethink the purpose of free, public education, and how it is provided.

 

So if you put a high school on Interstate Drive, make sure any low-ses family that wants to get there can. Costs money? You bet! Logistical nightmare? In this day and age, are we not called to be problem solvers?

 

Like I said before, the location of a high school, let alone a brand new high school, is of less importance to me than what I consider to be a higher priority – making sure we provide a free, high-quality public education, especially to those that really could benefit from it.

 

I invite you all to chime in, especially you silent types who usually don’t say anything. 🙂

Asking the Park District board for Dodds Park

A group of folks, including at least one board member and a board member candidate, will attend the next Park District board meeting and inquire (again) about the possibility of securing a small portion of Dodds Park for the new Central High School. The News-Gazette has run several articles (1, 2, 3, and there are more, including letters-to-the-editor) mentioning that the school district would much prefer Dodds Park if it becomes available, and there are several folks in the community who also favor this site. If you are one of them, I encourage you to make your voice known at this meeting.

 

The meeting is Wednesday, Jan 14th, 7:00 pm at the Bresnan Meeting Center, 706 Kenwood Road (near Centennial).

 

Of course, I realize that there are those that think Dodds Park is a horrible location. Nothing stops you from attending the same meeting. 🙂

Jan 5 Special Board meeting

Even though it is two hours long, I encourage you to at least check out the beginning of the video of last night’s BOE meeting:

http://vimeo.com/116062752

UPDATE: Public comment starts at 23:10

 

Nicole Lafond also did an article:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-01-05/school-proposal-april-ballot-coming-monday.html

 

In talking with Kerris, it sounds like the plan that several board members had been working on was, for one reason or another, not highlighted. Chalifoux asked a question about it, but that is about all we hear. Kerris has told me he is going to do a little digging to see what the story is.

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:

http://www.illinoishomepage.net/story/d/story/support-for-district-if-location-changes/42339/8oXxaq0_E0S1BKl9TAWIgQ

 

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? 🙂