CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – “Let the work begin.” Those are the words of Champaign School District Superintendent Dr. Shelia Boozer after the board officially chose a new student assignment model.
This vote has been months in the making. Monday night, board members unanimously approved scenario four, which will modify its current schools of choice process. But, some people are still going to be unhappy. That’s something Boozer and other board members acknowledged in the meeting.
“There will be no decision we can make where everyone will get exactly what they prefer. We realize and accept that,” Boozer said.
They said they can’t make a choice that will give everybody what they want, but they do believe they can make one in the best interest of children in the district.
The board room saw just as much passion from families Monday as they have since the conversation first started in September. Several spoke during public comment, expressing concerns over things like transportation, and especially changes to middle school assignments that were just announced two weeks ago. Board members assured the audience they’ve read every email, and heard every complaint – and they asked parents to listen back. Several have children that will also be impacted by the changes. But they feel that ultimately, the positive impact of their decision will be greater than the burden it places on families.
“Why now? Why can’t we just phase this in? Well, the famous quote: ‘if not us, who? If not now, when?’ is meant to inspire people to take action now, and not wait for someone else to step up,” Boozer said.
The board decided to eliminate the balanced calendar. Boozer said that will make staffing between buildings and transportation more efficient. The district will also be reimbursing qualifying families for driving their children to school.
Just before the vote took place, Board President Amy Armstrong issued a call to action to every taxpayer in the district. She asked them to write to federal legislators and ask when public schools will be fully funded, because until then – she said they will continue seeing problems like this arise.
More details on the new model: the district said proximity and socioeconomic diversity will remain primary factors in student assignment. They will be reserving 5-15% of seats at all schools for late registration. And, Garden Hills and International Prep Academy will be used as PK-8 schools.