CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The school board is considering a proposal for a new charter school.
A committee has been pushing for Champaign schools to establish a new facility for underperforming, low-income students. On Monday night, they submitted a formal proposal. It contains details on everything from classroom curriculum to the school’s budget.
They even have a building picked out– having secured an option to buy what used to be the Glory Center International Church near West Anthony Drive and Campbell**.
They hope it could become the “North Champaign Academy”. It’d be for students from kindergarten through fifth grade.
The group says this is in response to an alarming statistic: The district’s state report card shows back in 2011, about 15% of black students were at the low-achieving reading level. Last year’s report shows that number jumped to more than 50%.
The district already allows parents to have a say in which elementary school their child goes to, but the committee says that isn’t fixing what appears to be a growing problem.
“It’s not that school of choice is not working,” says committee member Lekevie Johnson, “We’re really looking at state data, we’re looking at the achievement gap, we’re looking at discipline, and how some of our low-income students are really faring. It’s the only option we have now. State legislation calls for charter schools to help with the bridging of that gap. Whatever option do we have?”
On Monday night, the president of the Champaign teachers’ union told the board she agrees there’s a disconnect between the district’s goals and the outcomes it’s producing for students. President Jennifer White also agrees there needs to be collaboration, but disagrees that a charter school is the right answer.
Part of a statement she read to the board says, “Instead of taking resources away from the students who need them most, I would suggest that we work collaboratively to bring more resources and supports for students and families into our schools.”
School board president Chris Kloeppel says the district will review the proposal and consider it. By law, they have to hold a public hearing about this within 45 days. Based on all sides of the argument, they’ll make the decision on whether a new school should be established.
There’s already a school like this in Macon county. Decatur’s Roberston Charter school has more than 300 students. They have students in pre-school all the way through middle school. It opened back in 2001.
**NOTE: The address listed in the proposal is “1400 Moreland Blvd”. The proposal also lists a PIN number, parcel information, property tax history, and a description of the property. That PIN, and the details included, are not consistent with the listed address. Therefore, WCIA 3 has determined the correct location to be “1400 W Anthony Drive”.