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Unit 4 School Board Member Changes Position on Bonds

A Champaign Unit 4 school board member has changed his mind about issuing up to $14.5 million in working cash bonds.

But procedural language kept the full board Monday night from voting to reverse the action it took in late February. Board member Dave Tomlinson said Jamar Brown could change his vote to a no, but the board couldn't initiate a vote of its own to abandon the bonds.

Since Unit 4 has already started discussions with the firm CTS for building upgrades, Tomlinson said such a move would violate Robert's Rules of Order.

Brown said he is still supportive of what the bonds would pay to support, but he believes better options to pay for that work should be sought out.

"I just wanted to change my vote from a yes to a no," Brown said. "But I do still support the work being done. So I will still continue to move forward to get the work done in the district, because I don't want to stop it."

Brown said he was concerned that none of the work the bonds were going for, including geothermal systems at Unit 4's middle schools, would be completed this summer. But District Chief Financial Officer Gene Logas said the timeline for some of that work has changed.

Meanwhile, Board President Sue Grey said the amount of the bonds isn't set in stone.

"The other piece of this is really looking at what it most urgent," Grey said. "Again, remember that working cash bonds were to be issued up to $14.5 million. Everybody keeps saying 'they're issuing working cash bonds for $14.5 million. No we're not. We're issued up to $14.5 million."

The working cash bonds have prompted complaints from the public, who believe a tax hike should have gone before voters.

A special Unit 4 board meeting could be held next Monday, where it could approve contracts for air conditioning and geothermal wells at its two middle schools. Quick action is required to complete the work over the summer.

Grey said she is not concerned Brown changed his vote, saying nothing has changed for the rest of the board when the bonds were unanimously approved in February.

The Unit 4 board also swore in its newest member Monday night. Illeana Saveley is filling the unexpired term of Greg Novak, who passed away in March.