Board of Education to Move Forward With Interstate Drive Site, Hears Updates on High School Educational Vision

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 10:18pm

At Monday night’s meeting, the Board of Education reaffirmed its decision to locate a new Central High School at the site purchased at Interstate Drive and Neil Street in Champaign.

Following a comprehensive search for the school site that included more than 18 available properties, the Board purchased the 80-acre site for $3.2 million back in January. In April, the Park District Board of Commissioners brought forward the possibility of Spalding Park, which was previously unavailable for the School District to consider. After fully investigating possibilities at Spalding Park, the School Board concluded that it would not move forward in seeking to acquire that site for the new school due to its limitations, which included the site size, significant additional costs related to land acquisition and construction, logistical challenges of site acquisition, impact on Franklin Middle School, parking, ability to expand the school in the future, and the impact on residents of the Spalding Park neighborhood, among others.

“The Interstate Drive site will provide adequate space for a comprehensive, 21st Century high school as well as room for future growth,” said Superintendent Dr. Judy Wiegand. “By placing the new high school in an area of the community slated for residential growth, I believe our District can provide a quality facility that supports student learning while being fiscally responsible to the community we serve.”

The District also heard an update on the District’s Master Facilities Plan, including discussion about a new Dr. Howard Elementary School, and future plans for South Side Elementary School and Edison Middle School. To see the update on the Master Facilities Plan, please visit the following link:

The Board also heard and discussed a presentation from District administrators as well as teachers from both Central and Centennial on the vision of 21st Century high school education in Champaign. The high school vision presentation also compared Central and Centennial facilities to the other schools in the Big 12 Conference, including total building square footage, student enrollment, square footage per student, and whether athletic facilities are available on site. Central High School is the only school in the Big 12 Conference that does not offer on-site athletics. The complete vision presentation is available online at the following link:

The Board also read a draft resolution that the Board could pass to allow a proposition to appear on the ballot in November. The District may ask voters whether or not to issue bonds in the amount of $150 million to pay for school construction projects including a new Central High School at the Interstate Drive site in the amount of $98 million and a renovated and expanded Centennial High School in the amount of $52 million. The Board will need to vote in favor of this resolution during their August 11 meeting in order to meet the deadline for this item to appear on the ballot November 4.

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