CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)–The Champaign School Board is reviewing the ‘LIFT Champaign’ program in it’s April 26th board meeting.
It would target students with three or more absences or discipline referrals, and with three or more suspensions. It’s a joint effort between the city of Champaign and Champaign’s Unit 4 School District. The program’s organizers said when students are showing certain patterns of behavior, they need specific intervention to address their needs.
“The root causes aren’t always evident. That’s what’s great about this approach, we’ll get at some of those root causes,” assistant superintendent Angela Ward said.
‘L.I.F.T.’ Champaign will reach out to the families of 78 students if it passes. It was first discussed back in 2019, but city leaders had to switch gears when the pandemic arrived. It’ll cost the city $250,000 dollars, with that money coming from its general fund. It aims to reverse an achievement gap that’s continued to widen over the last few years.
“We know that systemically and historically, that traditional schooling and the ways we do traditional work is often marginalizing.”
Deputy City Manager Joan Walls adds that the program would provide trained staff for assessing needs, providing one on one support and crisis intervention.
“That’s what’s unique about this program,” Walls said. “It’s being able to connect with them based on what they’ve shared with us, and explaining to us what those needs are.” It’ll also set aside money for mentorship, tutoring and afterschool services for at-risk youth, and even go as far as helping affected families with food insecurity and shelter.
“It sometimes takes a community to be bold and to take risks. Our families matter, and because of that commitment, we’re hoping we can change lives every day.”
If it passes, the city and school board will begin moving forward with the project in May.