Tier Two Committee Shelves Interstate Drive Site, Focuses On Central Campus

Champaign Central High School

Champaign Central High School

Travis Stansel/Illinois Public Media

A special committee of elected officials, members of the business sector and community members looking at the Champaign Unit Four school district’s facilities plans reviewed cost estimates for four options for Champaign Central High School Thursday night --- and then took one of those options off the table.

The “Tier 2” Special Facilities Committee decided to put aside the option of building a new Champaign Central High School on Interstate Drive on the north edge of Champaign.  The plan was a main component of two bond referenda, both of which were turned down by voters in the Unit Four School District.

Former Champaign City Manager Steve Carter, who’s served as a coordinator for the Tier Two Committee, says committee members decided Thursday night, to drop the Interstate Drive plan and focus on proposals that would build at the current Central High School site.

“From the committee’s standpoint, none of these votes are final until we see the whole package of recommendations we’re going to forward on to the board,” said Carter. “But the committee last night did vote to remove the Interstate sight from further considering, and just look at the alternative that would have Central remain in the same neighborhood.”

The Interstate Drive proposal carried an estimated price tag of $107.1 to $118.2 million. The three remaining plans to build on the Central site have generally lower cost estimates, ranging from $98 million to $115 million.

Two options for the Central campus would renovate and expand the current Central High School building for either 1,500 or 1,700 students, with room for P-E and practice fields on adjacent land across Church Street. A third plan would build an entirely new Central High School on the adjacent land, and put the practice fields on the old school site.  

All the plans assume the expansion of Centennial High School as well, to give Unit Four enough high school capacity for 3,400 students.

Unlike the Interstate Drive site, the three options for using the Champaign Central campus and adjacent land would not have room for a football stadium or baseball field --- although Carter said Central might use a baseball field at nearby Spalding Park.

But the committee also learned from Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit officials that school bus service to a high school on Interstate Drive would cost the Unit Four district an additional $450,000 a year. Carter said that operational expense would have to be balanced with possible energy savings from a brand new building.

Carter says the Tier Two Committee plans two or three additional meetings before it sends its recommendations to the Unit Four school board in June.

Story source: WILL