School board discusses SRO contract renewals and removal of gifted program

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Champaign, Ill. (WCIA) —

“Its extremely scary. My husband and I have had conversations over the weekend of do we move out of the district,” Parent Sarah Geiger said.

The future of the gifted program at Champaign schools could be up in the air. That has at least one parent reconsidering options. School board members are considering the removal of the elementary gifted program. They say they want more diversity.

The board just heard reports at this meeting, so nothing is set and stone, but the discussion is the first step to moving forward to the future.

“My first grader now reads chapter books at home, and in the classroom he’s learning two letter words,” Geiger said.

Champaign school board held a meeting discussing the gradual removal of the gifted program. This is for students from second to fifth grades. The district wants equity in the program. 72% in the program are White or Asian. 18% are Black or Hispanic.

Some board members think the gifted program is biased and is allowing certain races better education.

“What we’ve done is inherently created private schools within our public school and that’s not fair,” Board member Doctor Gianina Baker said.

For some parents, the gifted program is a way to get great education, that they say compares to private school.

“What this decision will mean for so many people may not be able to afford private school,” Geiger said.

Geiger argues that getting rid of the gifted program would worsen her kid’s education, because they’re academically ahead of what they are learning in the classroom.

“To see some sort of detailed plan for how the needs of those academically higher performing students would be addressed in the absence of that program,” Geiger said.

Board member Doctor Baker argues, the program is giving special treatment to kids of a certain race.

“There is clearly a lack of diversity, always has been, always will be, and the way that we have established it, you don’t need my vote, but if you did, the answer is yes,” Dr. Baker said.

The gifted program lost state funding a few years back so the program is being funded locally as well. They will speak about it again in the future.

The school board also discussed school resource officers. They plan to renew SRO contracts, but they also plan to add student support advocates. They would undergo training to help students. They also want students and families to be comfortable and know the SRO officers at school.

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