CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– The Champaign School Board met again to discuss Schools of Choice tonight. It has been a discussion all summer, and after receiving a lot of community feedback, they are now looking at a few new proposals.
The district has been working with a consulting firm, Cooperative Strategies, to desegregate schools and provide equitable education.
“Really focusing on the communities that need educational opportunities the most and making sure you are focused on historically disenfranchised groups,” said a Cooperative Strategies representative.
Families were presented with some new options tonight after the district received backlash about the original proposals.
A vote is scheduled for next month, but before that, they want another round of feedback from parents on new scenarios.
“First and foremost, the number one concern listed in the comments had to do with distribution far and away the number one,” said a Cooperative Strategies representative. “Some voices in the community that choice wasn’t working it needed to be fixed.”
The firm originally offered two proposals for elementary schools: creating pairs of sisters schools or clusters similar to the current model.
Cooperative strategies collected feedback from surveys and focus groups and gave an updated presentation.
Schools close to home: Boundaries and islands
A new option scenario 3 would create boundaries with islands.
The firm says Champaign was not designed for neighborhood schools, but if the district wanted boundary-drawn schools, they would only have 2 options.
“Spaghetti lines that go all over the place and have no geographic reference or make no geographic sense or islands with pockets of boundaries,” said a Cooperative Strategies representative.
In Scenario 3, Cooperative Strategies says boundaries with Islands would be the preferred method.
The firm says it would be efficient for transportation and families moving to the area would know exactly what school their children would go to, but it would disrupt 76 percent of elementary students and create a demographic imbalance.
Updated Schools of Choice
Their other new suggestion Scenario 4, would make modifications to the current schools of choice model.
“Garden hills and IPA would function as a PK8 with full day pre-k that you would continue to use proximity and socioeconomic diversity per your policy guidance,” said a Cooperative Strategies representative.
Scenario 4 would remove the balanced calendar and provide a 5-day fall break.
Families of students who qualify for district transportation that can provide their own transportation would be reimbursed by the district.
Cooperative Strategies says Scenario 4 would create the least disruption of all the scenarios while still addressing equity and efficiency.
If you want to see where your child’s school lies in all these scenarios, click here.
They’re working on translating it into Spanish and French.
Parents should watch an email with a survey for final questions and feedback.
Those emails will be out by midnight on December 14. You will have until January second to fill those out. The firm will give its final recommendation on January 9. The board is expected to vote on January 23.