News Local/State

Unit 4 Committee Hears From Administration On School Facility Needs

Champaign Central High School

Champaign Central High School Travis Stansel/Illinois Public Media

Illinois Public Media's Brian Moline spoke with News-Gazette reporter Nicole Lafond, who covered the April 7th meeting of the Champaign Unit Four Tier II Committee on Facilities.

The interview was broadcast live Friday morning, during Morning Edition on WILL AM and FM.

The Tier II committee is made up of local elected officials, business people and other community members. They're tasked with reviewing proposals for new and renovated school facilities from a Tier I committee made up of Unit 4 officials.

LaFond says that Thursday's meeting featured appearanced by Unit Four administrators, who discussed the district's facility needs, and the problems at some school buidlings --- notably Champaign Central High School and Dr. Howard Elementary School.

LaFond says a major problem at Champaign Central is a lack of space for athletic programs. Central Athletic Director John Woods told the committee that students travel to more than ten different sites in the area for athletic practice.

At Dr. Howard School, LaFond says administrators cite the building's age and deterioration as the main problems. Parts of the building are 105 years old, and the building is not accessible for people with disabilities.

Unit Four administrators outlined rebuilding and renovation projects at other school districts that are comparable to what Unit Four has considered doing.

One example is DeKalb High School, which was recently rebuilt at a new "greenfield" site on the edge of DeKalb for around $80 million. The project can be compared to the proposal to build a new Champaign Central High School on Interstate Drive on the north edge of Champaign.

A different example is the Decatur school district's renovation of its two existing high schools, for a combined cost roughly equal to the DeKalb high school project. The renovations might be compared to proposals to renovate Champaign Central High School, enlarging the campus with property located north and east of the school.

LaFond told Brian Moline that Tier II committee members are expected to review existing plans for Champaign Central High School at their next meeting. Those include the plan to build a new high school at Interstate Drive, and five different proposals to renovate Champaign Central at its current location.

Unit Four created a two-tier facilities committee with built-in community input, after voters rejected two successive referenda tied to construction of a new high school on Interstate Drive.