Unit 4’s Wiegand Discusses Facilities, Funding, & More

Unit 4 Superintendent Judy Wiegand runs through the ballot item to be placed on April ballots.

Champaign Unit 4 Superintendent Judy Wiegand making a presentation on the last referendum question the district placed on the ballot.

Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

The end of the school year is a time to celebrate, for the nearly 600 Champaign Unit 4 seniors who received their high school diplomas, and for students and teachers who get to take a breather before starting the next school year in August.

But this summer also brings some uncertainty for the Unit 4 School District.  The school board will decide this summer what referendum question will go on this November’s ballot to ask voters for a third time to rebuild or renovate Central High School and other district facilities.  The state legislature has yet to pass a budget for the next fiscal year, and Department of Education officials are investigating the district’s School Resource Officer Program over allegations of discrimination.

Illinois Public Media's Brian Moline discussed these issues with Unit 4 Superintendent Dr. Judy Wiegand, including her thoughts on the process the district is using to craft its new referendum question.

Meanwhile, Wiegand says the district has enough money to make it through the entire 2016-17 school year, even without any state funding, but that many other districts across the state cannot say the same.

“And we have been very good fiscal stewards of our dollars and have enough in our reserves that we can go ahead and open school and run school for the full academic school year," Wiegand said.  "I know from the lack of action in Springfield that I have colleagues who are seriously questioning whether or not they’re going to be able to open their schools.”

She says the district is also keeping a close eye on discussions to revamp the state's K-12 education formula.  Wiegand says Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's proposed education funding bill would boost the district's state funding, while State Senator Andy Manar's (D-Bunker Hill) proposal, which shifts state funds from property rich districts to poorer ones, would mean a cut for the district once it's phased in over four years.

Story source: WILL