Champaign school board debates $150 million ballot question to renovate high schools

CHAMPAIGN—The total to build and update two high schools in Champaign comes out to be $150 million, but construction won’t begin until voters have their say this November.

It’s official.

“The board made the decision to go with a site up on Interstate Drive,” said Champaign Unit 4 School District Superintendent Judy Wiegand.

After nearly a decade of debate, Champaign’s Central High School is moving to the 80-acre piece of property just north of Interstate Drive and Neil Street. But   before they bulldoze through these fields, the Unit 4 School Board must decide on a ballot question to ask residents whether the district can borrow bonds to pay for the project.

“The resolution they are considering would be to have $98 million for a new Central High School,” said Wiegand. “But then also $52 million to renovate Centennial High School and build an addition on to Centennial.”

 Bringing the total tab to $150 million, which would be paid back with property taxes.

“A $100,000 home, it would increase the tax rate approximately about $13 to $15 dollars a month, or $160 for the year,” said Wiegand.

For that price, both schools would get state of the art classrooms and science labs, as well as a fully loaded athletic field for Central, something those students don’t have currently.  However, if voters decline the charge, the board will be sent back to square one.

“We will certainly step back and take a look and analyze the results to find out why,” said Wiegand. “And then possibly move forward again in April 2015.”

The board will decide whether the question  will appear on Champaign ballots this November at its August 11th meeting.

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