Unit 4 Board Approves New Bond Issue
Champaign Unit 4 school board members Monday night unanimously approved a new $144-million dollar bond issue for the April ballot, 5-0.
It’s the second time the district has asked taxpayers to pay for a new Central High School on Interstate Drive, among other plans. And officials are already working to sell the idea to voters.
This new proposal dedicates $15-million for a new Dr. Howard Elementary.
That school’s PTA president, Kristin Van Duyne, said many people voted against the previous referendum because the school was left off the failed November proposal.
But she thanked board members for the new plan Monday night.
“It makes us feel like we’re heard, and that the district and the school board really care about what the parents think," she said. "That they’re not just pushing their own agenda through, or anything like that. They really want to do what the community wants.”
School officials hope enough voters will agree with that sentiment to back the proposal come April.
The ballot measure sticks with the Interstate Drive site in north Champaign for a new Central High, and funds to add on to Centennial High School with new spaces for career and technical education. There is also a reuse plan for the current Central building, consolidating other district operations.
School Board President Laurie Bonnett said the board listened to the concerns of the community when November’s measure failed. She said this revised plan isn’t so much about reducing the amount by five million dollars, but widening the scope.
“And so what I hear our educators talk about are the challenges that they face with the space," she said. "The challenges that they face with the ability to their job even better than what they’re doing now.”
Bonnett says the Unit 4 board hasn’t closed the door on the possibility of a Central High at Dodds Park, but is not pursuing it with the Champaign Park District Board.
Unit 4 Superintendent Judy Wiegand says the district needs to act soon because by 2021, Unit 4’s high schools will be at 118-percent capacity.
If this plan passes April 7th, the district says the owner of a $100-thousand home would pay an additional $117 a year, or just under $10 a month.
(Champaign Unit 4 tax impact chart)