Monday, August 22, 2016

Referendum Finalized for November Election and Preview of Board Meeting 8/22/16

It's on! (The ballot, that is.)

November 8, 2016 election.
$183.4 million requested.
6 school buildings.
3 additional locations for Central athletics.
$25 million from District funds.

10 portable classrooms for 2016-2017.

These numbers summarize the collaborative facilities planning process of 2016. On August 18, 2016, the Unit 4 Board of Education voted to put forward a $183.4 million referendum in November's general election, in order to better support our curriculum and capacity through $208.4 million in facilities improvements. For more information:

  • Watch the August 18 Board meeting here.
  • Read the most recent referendum details from Unit 4 here.
  • Read Nicole Lafond's report in the News-Gazette here.

Now that the referendum is officially on the ballot, the roles played by Board members (and bloggers) and District staff (and website) will change. Instead of gathering public input for planning and referendum development, we will be shifting toward education about the referendum and the projects it will support. Watch the Unit 4 website in the coming days and weeks; new information about the referendum -- such as updated site plans, tax numbers, and a FAQ page -- will all be forthcoming.

I encourage you to continue to communicate with your Board members in whatever way works for you (social media, email, telephone, at the grocery store, etc.), but know that we will be consolidating answers to referendum questions on a Unit 4 FAQ page so that these answers can be found in a centralized location.

Don't forget the important distinction between information put out directly by Unit 4, and the *reporting* of that information by media outlets or citizen groups. Our district controls the former; it does not and should not control the latter. I am grateful to live in a community where people can access multiple sources of information, provided that we remember to consider the source of everything we learn -- a skill that our teachers work on with our students every day!

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What else have we been working on this summer?

Contract negotiations with both unions -- CFT (Champaign Federation of Teachers) and CESP (Champaign Educational Support Professionals) -- began several weeks before the end of the 2015-16 school year and have continued throughout the summer. Each union's negotiating team has met with District representatives (including Board members) on seven different occasions.

Many of you already know that the Superintendent of Unit 4, Dr. Judy Wiegand, will retire at the end of the 2016-17 school year. (See a recent profile of Dr. Wiegand here, and a discussion of issues around replacing area superintendents here.) The Board will hold a Special Meeting at 6:00pm* on Monday, August 22, 2016, in order to decide whether to work with the IASB (Illinois Association of School Boards) in our search for a new superintendent.

We meet in the Mellon Building, 703 S. New St. (next to South Side Elementary School). Members of the public are welcome to observe, and to address the Board (for up to 3 minutes) during the designated public comment period. You can find the meeting agenda here. (Be sure to click on each agenda item to bring up additional information or description, including any attached documents.)

*Note that we do not expect to have any business on 8/22/16 that requires an Executive Session, so the Open Session of our meeting will begin directly at 6:00pm.