A Call to Action – safe schools post Nov 8, 2016

Due to the increased acts of harassment, bullying and downright meanness across the nation as of November 8th, a grassroots group has begun organizing to urge for a welcoming and safe environment in our local schools. Another reader has also mentioned a statement from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC):



The local grassroots group has put together a petition (google form – UPDATED), and are asking that people sign it. They will be presenting this to the school board tonight at the Mellon Center.


Several Champaign Unit 4 parents have been organizing around an issue that we plan to present at tomorrow’s board meeting and we are looking for additional Champaign parents and community members who can help.


Tomorrow we will send a letter to the board and Superintendent Wiegand that outlines our concerns regarding the recent increase in hate speech and harassment of vulnerable groups in schools across the nation. The letter also proposes plans to prevent and address these issues in our district.


Would you be willing to sign such a letter and/or help connect us to other parents and community members who would be willing to sign it? In addition, we hope to pack the house tomorrow night with concerned citizens and parents and would love to have any support we can get that way.


Thank you so much!


Sharlene Denos

p.s. The school board meeting is tomorrow, November 14th at 5:30pm at the Mellon Administration Building, 703 South New Street in Champaign.

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.

A grassroots future facilities charrette


char·rette [shuh-ret] noun

“a final, intensive effort to finish a project, especially an architectural design project, before a deadline.”

Unit 4 has given us lots of data to process, but still, what does it look like to put a high school near the Centennial site? What about on Olympian Drive? What about Neil and Bradley?

Come explore with us; we will have large-format GIS maps that we can mark up with pencils, pens, and lots of accessories like Monopoly® hotels, scissors, notepads, stickies, etc. The idea is to have fun brainstorming while using our hands to physically manipulate the possibilities.

1:00—4:00 pm, Sunday, April 7th
Foundation Room (Room 222) Champaign Public Library (upper level)

Two more will be planned, one later in April and one in May

UPDATE: you don’t have to stay for the entire 3 hours – come when you can, stay for as long as you want.

UPDATE: Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/162927813865981/

UPDATE: Meg Dicksinson wrote a brief for the NG: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2013-04-04/residents-discuss-champaign-school-site-ideas.html; she also gave us a nice tinyurl for this post: http://tinyurl.com/grassrootfacilities.