Updated: Referendum Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:46pm

If the referendum passes in November, what is the timeline for construction at Centennial High School?

At Centennial High School, the proposed construction plans would come in phases, beginning with a new classroom addition on the South end of the building. The timing of this project would depend on what the local labor force can handle at the time and is yet to be determined. However, the District would aim to begin construction as soon as possible upon completion of the design process.

Why is there currently a trailer at Centennial High School and why is it located in the front of the school?

Currently, a trailer housing two classroom spaces is being utilized at Centennial High School to accommodate the school’s growing student population. The trailer is located in front of the school because that location is most accessible to utility hookups and is closest to the core of the building for safety purposes. At this time, the District’s two high schools are operating at 103% capacity. By 2022, the District anticipates enrollment to be at 120% capacity if nothing is done to address this issue. The District anticipates the need to utilize additional trailer classrooms to meet capacity needs if the referendum does not pass.  

How much debt does the District currently have and how is it being managed? Will the District be able to take on the debt of these construction projects once the referendum passes?

Currently, the District has approximately $106 million in debt, $86.125 million of which is the result of bonding funds from the County-Wide 1% Sales Tax. Even with an additional $149 million in bonds issued to support the high school projects, the District would only reach roughly 63% of its debt limit. Once approved by the voters, this new debt would be backed by District property taxes, not by the District’s operating budget.

What new academic offerings will be available to students with the proposed new facilities?

The proposed new Central High School and renovated/expanded Centennial High School would not only provide students and teachers with 21st Century classrooms, but also make room for new academic program offerings.

Career & Technical Education programs offered today include:

Central High School – Business, Family & Consumer Science, Industrial Technology
Centennial High School – Business, Family & Consumer Science

A new Central High School and renovated/expanded Centennial High School could offer courses and build on existing community partnerships in the following areas:

Building Trades
Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
Broadcast Journalism

I’ve heard a pool will be built at the new Central High School and that the District will close the pool at Centennial. Is this true and why can’t the District keep both pools?

The District plans to build a pool at the new Central High School but has not ruled out the possibility of renovating the current Centennial pool. This renovation may necessitate some compromises in other areas in the design process. However, the District is open to having that discussion with families, staff, and the community as part of that design process following the passage of a referendum.

Can I see a more detailed cost breakdown of the proposed high school construction projects before I make a decision on how I will vote in the upcoming election?

The costs of the proposed projects include the following:

$97.7 Million for New Central High School

·         Building Construction: $64,204,000

·         Site Construction: $10,458,799

·         Indirect Costs: $18,079,400

·         Off-Site Improvements: $2,083,564

·         Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment $2,800,000

$51.3 Million for Renovated & Expanded Centennial

·         Building Construction: $18,268,000

·         Renovations: $20,623,000

·         Site Construction: $2,512,526

·         Indirect Costs: $7,116,174

·         Furn., Fixtures & Equip. $2,800,000

Total = $149 Million

Building costs include all material costs and labor to install just for the building--for example, footings, walls, roofs, electrical, plumbing, mechanical systems, and safety and security infrastructure.  Site construction costs are the same but just for the site work, including parking lots, fields, utilities, bus loops, earth work, drainage, etc.   Indirect Costs are costs that support the building construction, such as insurance, environmental investigations, permits, engineering fees, etc.

How much does Unit 4 currently spend annually per student and how does it compare to other school districts around the state?

This information is available as part of the District and State report cards. You can view the District’s report card here:


The 2011-2012 (most recent available) operating expenditure per student is as follows:

Champaign Unit 4 Schools: $11,585
State: $11,842

Why isn’t the District using the 1% sales tax to fund the high school construction projects?

In 2009, voters approved a county-wide 1% sales tax. As promised, revenues received from the 1% were used to purchase a site for a new Central High School. In addition to land acquisition, these funds have improved existing and built two new facilities at the elementary school level, including:

Booker T. Washington STEM Academy
Carrie Busey
Garden Hills
Kenwood (Expected Fall 2015)

While this funding stream does not allow the District to access enough funds to build a new Central High School and renovate/expand Centennial High School, additional funding from the 1% sales tax will become available in 2025 to address additional needs on the District’s Master Facility Plan, including Dr. Howard Elementary School.  For more information about how the funds from the 1% sales tax have been utilized, please visit: http://bit.ly/1rRa2El

What is the history of the process to site Central High School? I've heard it's a long process but what are all the things the school district has considered over the years? 

Recently, local attorney Mike Tague submitted a memorandum to the Board of Education and Superintendent outlining the long road to site Central High School. Tague has worked with the District throughout this process and offers an interesting perspective on the process and the many possibilities that were explored and considered throughout the years. You can read a copy of this memorandum here: http://futurefacilities.champaignschools.org/sites/futurefacilities.cham...