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On Monday night, June 14, 2010, longtime community activist Terry Townsend delivered a list of demands for construction of the new school to replace the Booker T. Washington School in Champaign. The new school is to fulfill the requirements of the consent decree to provide an additional 200 seats in the historically black community of the North End. The Unit 4 School Board is currently reviewing bids for the $13 million school. The old school has already been torn down and its replacement will be roughly double the size. Townsend says that this will significantly impact the neighborhood, bringing increased traffic and paving the way for gentrification.
Extended School Vacation and March on Champaign Schools
1. We demand that you build a smaller Washington school (BTW). Traffic and parking options are unacceptable.
2. We demand that Champaign schools stop using sales tax money to purchase homes in the BTW target area.
3. We demand a public accounting of sales tax money used for lawyer fees.
4. We demand that you guarantee all walking students within the 1.5 mile radius of BTW a seat in the new school.
5. We demand a copy of the controlled choice seat assignment policy that will be used to assign students to BTW.
6. We demand a public guesstimate of the tax increase on residents in the BTW area and the geographical reach of said tax increase.
7. Superintendent Arthur Culver has stated, “he will not use eminent domain in the BTW area.” We demand a Board of Education resolution consistent with and supportive of said statement.
8. We demand that the parking on the 400 block of East Eureka be restored as the residents have requested and that no additional parking for the BTW will be allotted on that street. Please note: residents cannot park on said street thus they are parking on their front yards. They have been informed that this practice of parking on their front yard subjects them to fines up to 700 dollars!
9. We demand that Douglass Center not be torn down and that programs be developed for all ages of the community. Douglass center should not become an outpost for BTW.
10. We demand that parks that are frequented by minorities close at the same time as other parks.
Demands are negotiable.
If demands are not met, nonviolent direct action will commence August through October.