"I think we have to have a solid plan," says board member Arlene Blank. The members of the board hope to create a winning referendum, so they can update the district's facilities. In order to do that, they'll come up with a long-term master plan. And then, they want the community to help decide how to get there.
Board Chair, Dave Tomlinson, says the key is "convincing voters this is their plan; that it's conceived by the community and desired by the community".
Teachers say they want to be involved too. They're in the buildings and know what's needed. During the creation of the last referendum, they felt like they were heard, but not quite listened to. "We need to be included on that decision and not have somebody make that for us," says Deb Foertsch, the President of the Champaign Federation of Teachers.
This go-around, the board is making it a point to involve teachers, students and community members, as well as the plaintiffs of the consent decree.
"We're required by the consent decree to try our very hardest put two strands north of University Avenue. We absolutely are still committed to that, and to make sure we do that. But we also want to make sure we do that in an educationally sound manner," says Tomlinson.
The board is now just beginning the process, but one thing's for sure. They know if they want positive change for the district, they need the voters on board.
That's why the board is doing a demographic study of the area. They want to see exactly where the growth is and where more seats and improvements are needed.
They'll start asking for community involvement soon. Then in the summer of 2008, they plan to present it to voters. The goal is to get it on a ballot that November.