CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – “If in 2022, we’re still dealing with this much inequality, can you imagine what these parents were going through 15, 20, 30 years ago?” Colleen Dorsla said.

To Dorsla, switching schools is a small price to pay for equality. The Champaign School Board was met with backlash when it announced potential changes to its student assignment process, but not every family is against change.

Many families have strong opinions about the options on the table, and they want everyone to be heard. Parents were able to participate in the first round of feedback focus groups Wednesday, but they weren’t notified until a few hours before. Others are worried not every family will have the same opportunity to share their thoughts.

“This board and this superintendent – whether we like it or not – is trying to change things,” Dorsla said.

One group of parents sprung into action when they heard the school board is considering proposals that would change the schools of choice process, and potentially send their children to new schools next year. But, others feel it could be what the district needs.

“I don’t think that this change is the worst thing in the world. I think that it could be made positive,” Dorsla said.

Dorsla has a granddaughter at International Prep Academy. She said some people might be too quick to reject the proposals.

“I’m not for it, I’m not against it, but I’m not ready to say ‘absolutely don’t move my granddaughter,'” she said.

The board is working to make their elementary schools more socioeconomically diverse. But, Dorsla said the very families the district wants to uplift are the ones who feel they don’t have a voice.

“What can I do? I can’t force this family to voice their opinion. Well, then you have to help them speak,” she said.

She said there’s a lot of quiet families, and the community just needs to listen harder. One parent, Yuting Chen, hopes to see imrpovement across the district.

“The problem right now that we need to solve is to make sure that our schools are doing well, and that will attract people equally who are willing to send their kids to a different school,” Chen said.

She attended a focus group held by Cooperative Strategies – a consulting firm hired by the district. Some worry those groups aren’t accessible to all families, and she said they ran out of time to answer everyone’s questions.

“But, I think the conversation evolved into something more meaningful toward the end,” Chen said.

Cooperative Strategies also recommended eliminating the balanced calendar for Kenwood and Barkstall. Chen has a child at Barkstall, and she believes that schedule helps prevent summer learning loss.

“I think it’s something that we should consider not eliminating, but expanding to other schools as well, because that summer gap is just too long and a lot of families just don’t have help during those summer months,” Chen said.

She said during the session, Cooperative Strategies said they’d try to let families know earlier that they’d been selected for a focus group.