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Champaign Education Forum Seeks Wide Range of Ideas

On the heels of talks on working cash bonds and sites for a new Central High School, an unsuccessful applicant for Champaign Unit 4's vacant school board seat has set a forum to discuss these and other topics.

Charles Schultz writes a blog about the school district, but he said the meeting Tuesday night isn't Champaign-specific. He hopes the discussion include new topics and voices.

"The budget comes up from time to time, obviously, working cash bonds feeds into that," Schultz said. "And I do hear about teachers and students having some things to say, and they don't have an appropriate place to say them. Sometimes there's just kind of scared to come out and say it to their principal, or say it in a public kind of a way. I think we're just trying to make it open and available however we can. Most people are just exploring."

Schultz said he has also heard a lot of comments about the kindergarten school assignment process in Champaign. He suggests the public needs more time allotted for these discussions than a board meeting will provide.

The forum's co-organizer, Chuck Jackson is a former school board candidate and PTA president. Jackson said the idea behind the event and another like it in Urbana next month is to have the wider conversation. He also hopes to reach out to parts of the population that may not typically participate in such discussions.

"For example, I'm extremely concerned with our effectiveness at teaching people that get free and reduced lunch," Jackson said. "Our graduation rate is in the 60's (percentage), and yet, those are not typically who come to a forum."

The schools forum is at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at the Champaign Public Library. There is a separate conversation scheduled for May 15th at 7 p.m. at the Urbana Free Library.

Meanwhile, after interviewing eight candidates Monday night (including Schultz), the Champaign Unit 4 School Board selected Ileana Saveley to fill a vacant board seat created by the death of board member, Greg Novak.

Saveley will serve until April 2013. The board had 45 days from the date of the vacancy to fill the position.

Saveley was unanimously chosen following the interviews and closed session in Monday night's special board meeting.

Categories: Education