Demographics and the Jan 14th Regular School Board Meeting

In preparation for the Jan 14th board meeting, Dejong has posted a couple PDFs about their work to date:


Source: DeJong-Richter

Source: DeJong-Richter

Historical and projected growth trends

GIS summary of current population densities

As such, Dejong will be presenting more details at the Jan 14th board meeting. In addition, a reminder that Scott Leopold has agreed to meet with us at Houlihans on TUESDAY (Jan 15th, 11:30) (not Wednesday). Sorry, Laura B, I know this doesn’t work for you.

The Jan 14th board meeting is going to be kinda wild. At 5:pm, the board will conduct interviews with a small subset of the 13 vacancy candidates in closed session, and it looks like the two newly minted board members will be sitting for their first board meeting. Looks like we have a number of recognitions again, mild policy change suggestions (nothing seemed outrageous to me *grin*), the DeJong presentation, new school attorney (no details), a new emotional disabilities self-contained program, a Change Authorization for the Kenwood project, a request to renew board representation on a list of 12 committees (including the heretofore unmentioned Choice Committee), and a bunch of consent agenda items mostly made up of more money being requested to fix things. The whole thing with fixing the Mellon Center entrance has me confused – it is way overdue, and now I get the impression it is over budget (unconfirmed)? What happened? Also, the changes for Westview say that there is a “contingency” budget – what is that?

In some ways, I apologize for questioning relatively small expenses, but I firmly believe that each of us taxpayers (and by “taxpayers”, I very much mean district employees and board members as well) have the obligation to scrutinize where our money goes. Having said that, I see that there is a “treasurers report” that lists recent expenses in the form of a check register, and monies for attorneys (a majority of which goes to Flynn, Palmer and Tague for “Real Estate Matters”, whatever the heck that is) and investments; I heard a rumor that Dr. Wiegand and Dr. Joe Davis are working on a way to make financial information more accessible (ie, understandable) to the common man, but not sure if we will see that on Monday or not.

Houlihans: school board candidates and DeJong

This week I have made an open invitation to the school board candidates to come out and join us for informal conversations at Houlihans. At least two school board candidates will be in attendance, and unfortunately I know two others will not be able to attend. My goal is simply meet-and-greet style; I might have some questions I am curious about, but I am not going to grill candidates interview-style at all.


Next week (Tuesday or Wednesday, Jan 14 or 15, TBA) we are meeting with Scott Leopold again. Woot! 🙂

Future Facilities Survey results posted

Scott Leopold has informed me that the survey results for the Future Facilities are out there for all of you to view:


Also, the results of the Fallon focus groups will be presented along with the background report at tomorrow’s Steering Team meeting. I am told the meeting is open for the public as observers; if you would be so kind as to let Stephanie Stuart (217-531-0252, know you are coming, she will make sure there are enough chairs set out for all of us. And yes, I plan to go and blog about it.

Steering Committee Meeting #3: Monday, December 17th 6:00pm @ Dr. Howard Elementary


Please look over the data so far and let any of us (me, Stephanie, Scott) know your thoughts. Of course, I am just a tad biased and hope you post your thoughts here. *grin*


PS – I am quite aware that there are those of you who are not so happy with the money we are spending on this Public Engagement firm. As I have stated previously, I very much welcome different opinions and in fact, I openly invite those who disagree. My own excitement stems mostly from the fact that some real data has been released and we now get a chance to look it over through our own lens.

Houlihans plans for the next few weeks

So after the last couple of Houlihans meetings, we want to be a little more intentional about our gatherings in December (and January, and February, you get the picture). So even though we are more intentional, the format is still open and welcome new & old faces alike. 🙂 Take special note (Laura B) that the third gathering is on a TUESDAY.


Wednesday, December 5th: Letter-to-the-editor day – if you show up, you are helping to write a letter-to-the-editor (due December 5th) or you have already done so this week. (this is a throw-down challenge issued by Pattsi)


Wednesday, December 12th: I am inviting a board member or two to join us and talk about the last official board meeting of the year (December 10th), what next year holds, answer questions (or even ask questions).


Tuesday, December 18th: Scott Leopold will be joining us to report on DeJong-Richter and Fallon. He has seen Pattsi’s questions and will respond to them at this meeting. They have a Steering Team meeting the day before (Monday, December 17th) and will talk about that. I am really hoping they have the “living document” (aka, Background Report) ready to see the light of day, or at least an early version of it.


No official gathering for December 26th. Not sure about January 2nd, but I am thinking no gathering since it is still kind of the holidays. 🙂

Learning how to do community (a review of the Futures Conference on Nov 1st)

There are approximately 3,000 high school students in the Champaign Unit 4 School District.  If you were to start your school district from scratch, how would you best divide high school students?

If you had a sandbox, what kind of castle would you build? If you had a copy of SimChampaign, where would you put the schools, the municipalities, the commercial zones?

For me, trying to answer this question represents the challenge of the Futures Conference; it is both the fallacy that this question stands alone, and the social pressure of stating what you really think in front of other people (like that urban or city planner city sitting across the table from you). But let me make a very clear distinction – I think perhaps the most important part is the asking and the answering of the question. Not necessarily what the question is, nor the answer for that matter. “What is your favorite color?”, while possibly eliciting the odd “Blue! No, wait, Red! AAAAAAaaaaaahhhhhhh……”, just does not provoke the same kind of deeply held and possibly unconscious beliefs about “the way things should be.” I will come back to this.

There were a number of good things, and a number of challenge areas at the Futures Conference this afternoon. I’m a “give me the bad news first” kinda guy, so here goes.


I felt the presentation time was way too long. When I looked at the agenda and saw 70-85 minutes for opening introductions, an overview and the main presentation, I thought I could live with that. But by the time we got to slide 16 (out of 69) I was already wondering how much longer it was going to be. By slide 35 I had checked out. I couldn’t tell you what time it was, but I am pretty sure that we were already close to the soft “time limit”. Have you ever sat in a white church and looked around about 30 minutes into a sermon? People have this glazed-over zombie-like expression. That is exactly what I saw in the room. (I have been to a few black churches and have yet to find any zombies *grin*) I wrote down in my notes that Tracy Richter had some great momentum built up with the first two videos he showed at various points during the presentation (see “Strengths” below), but he killed that momentum. I so badly wanted to just start talking about the videos!

And those charming, sweet cute kids. How can I rip on kids? Don’t worry, I Read the rest of this entry »

Awesome conversation at Houlihans today

We had a record turnout today (7 + one who came later), which perhaps contributed to some excellent deliberation and healthy arguments. Thanks to Scott Leopold and Stephanie Stuart for dropping by and joining with us. I cannot possibly do justice to the breadth topics that we covered, nor even the depth to which we took some of them. So I ask you who attended to fill in with your own recollections.


As you might imagine, things started a little slow, making introductions, shooting the breeze, thinking about what to order, etc. I don’t know how others felt, but I am extremely glad we did not have an official agenda – it was a very organic conversation, starting off with football (Illinois is playing Ohio this week? Scott is somewhat of a Ohio fan, btw), trick-or-treeting and politics.

We sauntered over to educational topics and Scott had an opportunity to share some of the questions they are thinking of asking at tomorrow’s Futures Conference. Throughout our gathering, we Read the rest of this entry »