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Champaign Voters To Decide High School's Future

Unit Four board members have unanimously voted to ask Champaign residents to fund the construction of a new Central High School and also renovate the current Centennial High School.

Ken Salo of Champaign says "as a tax payer but also as an educator, I’m concerned and I think that it's not a well thought out decision. I would have preferred for the school to remain where it is to be updated".

It's been a near eight year ordeal but come November, Champaign voters will decide whether to release nearly 150 million dollars in bonds to build a new Central High School and remodel the current Centennial Highschool.

Brenda Koenig of Champaign says "I’m not happy about spending money on the edge of town. It takes away such a wonderful historic resource”.

Koenig is undecided about her vote in November. She supports increasing taxes for education but doesn’t like the proposed new location on Interstate Drive and Neil.    

“They already have an idea of what they want and they're trying to sell it to us through these questionnaires. I feel a lot of the questions on the questionnaires were slanted toward what they wanted already,” Koeing says.

The Central High School project would cost nearly $98 million and provide a 309,000 square-foot facility. To renovate Centennial Highschool, it could cost a little more than $51 million. Koenig believes the back and forth has residents unsettled.

“They keep repackaging and packaging and I think what is happening is the voter is getting confused..

so why isn’t Dr. Howard included, why are both high schools included,” she says.

Unit Four estimates home owners will pay on average an additional $140 per year for each $100,000 of assessed home value.  

“Any redevelopment or rehabbing of existing buildings for me makes a lot more sense ecologically then new development elsewhere on new land,” Salo says,

If the referendum does not pass this fall, the district will have to return to the drawing board.

Nate Rodgers, Reporting.