Champaign School Board Discusses Updates on High School Facilities Process

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 10:40pm

At Monday’s meeting, the Champaign Board of Education heard updates on the high school facilities planning process, including a programming update, results from the community phone survey, and a report from the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission.

Gorski Reifsteck/DLR Group, the District’s team of architects, gave a presentation highlighting updates in the high school planning and programming process. One specific area of focus was the site selection process used prior to purchasing the 80-acre site for a new Central High School at Interstate Drive and Neil Street back in January. In April, Park District representatives brought forward the option of Spalding Park that the District has been in the process of evaluating.

One major factor in the evaluation of each site has been the cost of site acquisition, site development, and construction. Representatives from Urbana-based engineers Berns Clancy & Associates, the District’s real estate attorney Mike Tague, and O’Shea Builders have been working with the District’s planning team to determine the costs for the Interstate Drive and Spalding Park sites. The intent of this work is to help inform the Board of Education in deciding which site is best suited for the new high school. The team has determined that building at the Spalding Park site could cost the District as much as $45.8 million more in total acquisition, development, and construction costs than building on the Interstate Drive site. The presentation from Gorski Reifsteck/DLR Group is available online here:

Another area of focus in the Gorski Reifsteck/DLR Group presentation was the high school educational program. The educational program applies to both a renovated Centennial High School and a newly constructed Central High School and takes into account the number of students served and the academic offerings to determine space needs. Gorski Reifsteck/DLR Group has met extensively with administrators, teachers, and students to determine some of the spaces both schools will need in the future. Highlights include spaces for Computer Science and STEM courses, Special Education classes, growing needs for English as a Second Language (ESL) courses, Career & Technical Education courses, additional lab spaces consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards, enhanced music and performing arts spaces, marching band practice space, collaborative and co-curricular spaces, physical education/wellness/athletics spaces, and commons areas.

Ken DeSieghardt of Patron Insight was also present to report to the Board of Education and community on the results of the recent phone survey conducted by the District. The phone survey contained questions developed in partnership with the District and Patron Insight and consisted of two calling groups of 400 registered voters. The refinement of the questions and second phase of calling was deemed necessary to ask more open-ended questions and clarify the cost implications of both school sites for residents to make a fair determination. When asked which of the two sites they preferred, survey concluded that 49% of respondents were in favor of the Interstate Drive site, while 38% were in favor of the Spalding Park site. Fourteen percent of respondents were unsure after hearing information about both sites. Community members can view the survey results here:

The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission also presented results of its traffic impact analysis on the Interstate Drive and Spalding Park sites. The reports are available for review online here:

Board Presentation:
Interstate Drive Site Analysis:
Spalding Park Site Analysis:

Next steps in the process include a continuation of the cost analysis and the presentation of an Economic Impact Study for both the Interstate Drive and Spalding Park sites. An overview of what will be included in the forthcoming study is available here:

For the latest updates in the process, please visit