Urbana opens new elementary, junior high school

Urbana City Schools welcomed students into their new school Tuesday.

The $37 million project was approved by taxpayers in November 2014. The building that will serve the district’s preschool through eighth-grade students is on U.S. 68 between Campground Road and Pearce Place across the street from the Champaign County Community Building. It’s the second building the district has opened in a year. It opened the new high school building in April.

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“It’s been a great start to the first day in our new school,” Superintendent of Urbana City Schools Charles Thiel said. “As I stood out front helping to direct traffic I realized the number of kids and families and adults are all a part of the programs of our schools. We were spread out throughout the city, but when you combined them into one building there is a lot of people that are using our resources and being part of the school program.”

Overall, the opening went well, he said.

The district pushed back the start date so the building could be finished before the start of school. The new building has a number of advancements that the old schools didn’t. For one, air conditioning.

“It has been wonderful for us and will continue to be wonderful to have the air movement and circulating so we have fresh air in the building,” Thiel said.

The school also has updated security features that force people wanting to enter the building to be cleared by staff before doing so.

“We have a whole series of video cameras in the building and outside the building to monitor what’s happening,” Thiel said. “There is a lot more security than we ever had at our old buildings. They just didn’t consider those things back in (the early 1900s.)”

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Everyone being in one building is a good change, he said.

“It’s great to be able to say to a 3-year-old that’s going to preschool that you are going to stay in this building until you get to the eighth-grade,” he said. “You will become comfortable in this building.”

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