Board Policy Manual Ch1

Chapter 1: General Information About the School District

1:10 School District Legal Status

The Illinois Constitution requires the State to provide for an efficient system of high-quality public educational institutions and services in order to achieve the educational development of all persons to the limits of their capabilities.

The General Assembly has implemented this mandate through the creation of school districts. The District is governed by the laws for school districts serving a resident population of not fewer than 1,000 and not more than 500,000.

The Board of Education constitutes a body corporate that possesses all the usual powers of a corporation for public purposes, and in that name may sue and be sued, purchase, hold and sell personal property and real estate, and enter into such obligations as are authorized by law.

LEGAL REF.:        Ill. Constitution, Art. X, Sec. 1.

105 ILCS 5/10-1 et seq.

CROSS REF.:          2:10 (School District Governance), 2:20 (Powers and Duties of the Board of Education; Indemnification)

ADOPTED:           October 18, 2016


1:20 District Organization, Operations, and Cooperative Agreements

The District is organized and operates as a Unit District serving the needs of children in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 and others as required by the School Code.

The District enters into and participates in joint programs and intergovernmental agreements with units of local government and other school districts in order to jointly provide services and activities in a manner that will increase flexibility, scope of service opportunities, cost reductions, and/or otherwise benefit the District and the community. The Superintendent shall manage these activities to the extent the program or agreement requires the District’s participation, and shall provide periodic implementation or operational data and/or reports to the School Board concerning these programs and agreements.

LEGAL REF.:        Ill. Constitution, Art. VII, Sec. 10.

5 ILCS 220/1 et seq.

ADOPTED:           October 18, 2016

1:22 Short History of School Facilities of the School District

The earliest evidence of formal schooling in the vicinity of Urbana is a record of the existence of a school house in 1832. The Urbana Male and Female Seminary was erected in the early 1850’s under the auspices of the Methodist Church. In 1857 the building was purchased by the City of Urbana for $5,000. It was used as a free school for all grades (1-12) until 1872. Mr. T.R. Leal was its first principal and served until he was elevated to the office of County Superintendent. The Seminary burned in 1872 and the first Leal School was erected in 1873. The “second Ward” and “Fourth Ward” schools were opened in 1872.

A one-room, one-teacher school known as District Number 4 was added to the Urbana system about 1890. During 1896 John Thornburn presented a site for a new high school which was erected before the close of the year and became known as the Thornburn High School.

At the turn of the century, the Urbana school system included four elementary schools and one high school under the Superintendency of J.W. Hays. Early in the century substantial additions and improvements were made to the Urbana school buildings. The Second Ward School was remodeled in 1902 and became Lincoln School. In 1903 Leal School was rebuilt. East Urbana, which had been served by the Fourth Ward School, and District Number 4 were the next areas to receive attention. The Fourth Ward School was replaced by Webber School; constructed in 1905. Number 4 was eliminated in the following year.

In 1908, as a result of a petition from the citizens of the northwest section of the City, the J.W. Hays School was erected. Three years later petitions were circulated for the construction of a new high school building; it was eventually built upon its present site in 1914. At the time of its construction the E-shaped design was regarded as somewhat revolutionary, and when four years later the gymnasium and swimming pool were added, it took its place as one of the outstanding high school buildings in the country.

Further building continued with the construction of Washington School located by Crystal Lake Park in the northeast in 1923 and the enlargement of Thornburn School in 1926.

In 1936, Leal School was rebuilt with federal aid (a WPA project), and in 1944, with a fresh program of rehabilitation and modernization underway, Webber School was remodeled. In 1946, the Perkins School was annexed to the Urbana school system.

During the years following World War II, the Urbana School District began to experience an increase in school population as a result of expanded home building within and outside the city limits. During the next twenty years the following buildings were constructed: Flossie Wiley Elementary School (1950); Urbana Junior High School (1952); Yankee Ridge Elementary School (1958); Thomas Paine Elementary School (1963); and Dr. Williams Elementary School (1965). Also during this time several independent school districts were annexed to Urbana School District 116. These included Steward District No. 120 in Somers, Silver District No. 115, Locust Grove District No. 122, Allen District No. 124, and Mariott District No. 11. In addition, several other sections of land were added to bring the district to its present size of 42.38 square miles.

During the years of repaid student growth, several additions were made to existing buildings to meet the need for more space. In 1971 the most recent construction was completed with the opening of the Brookens Junior High School.

Between 1972 and 1983, the student population declined steadily. As a consequence of this decline, several buildings were closed and/or sold. Since 1984 the student population seems to have leveled off.

In November, 1985, a referendum was approved for a $14.5 million renovation and expansion of Urbana High School. When completed in August, 1989, ninth grade students moved to the high school to form a four-year high school, and Urbana Junior High became Urbana Middle School to serve grades 7-8.

School district voters approved a $23 million referendum in 1998 to expand and renovate Leal Elementary School, expand and renovate Urbana Middle School, and to construct the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center. The Aquatic Center was constructed through an intergovernmental agreement with the Urbana Park District. (The school district would construct the facility and the park district would oversee its administration once completed.) Students from Leal, and then 6th grade students, were housed at the “East Campus,” which was once the Osco-Jewel Store at 1010 South Philo Road during the construction to the respective schools. All construction was completed by the Fall of 2003. (Leal reopened in August 2001, the Aquatic Center opened in January 2003, and the Urbana Middle School reopened to all three grade levels in August 2003.)

Rev. 02/10

Summary of Building Construction and Closures (pdf)

1:30 School District Philosophy


The Urbana School District #116 Board of Education believes:

  • each individual has inherent value.
  • everyone can and will be a successful learner.
  • learning throughout life is essential for people to thrive in a time of constant change.
  • higher expectations and hard work are necessary for individuals to achieve full potential.
  • trusting, positive relationships are built on honesty, integrity and respect.
  • quality education is essential to sustaining and improving a healthy and just democracy.
  • change, which involves risk, is necessary to stimulate creativity, innovation, progress and growth.
  • caring and nurturing relationships are essential in every person’s life.
  • everyone benefits when people willingly contribute to the well being of others and the greater good.
  • understanding and appreciating individual and cultural differences is essential for success in a diverse interdependent world.
  • each person is responsible for his or her own choices and actions.
  • educational excellence is a shared responsibility of our entire community.


The mission of Urbana School District 116, a multi-cultural community committed to educational excellence, is to ensure that all learners acquire knowledge, develop skills, and build character to achieve personal greatness and help create a better global society, by providing innovative, comprehensive programs, respecting individual learning styles and cultural differences, and fostering caring and nurturing relationships, while engaging each student, every family and the entire community.


The Board of Education, in focusing district resources and energies upon the continual pursuit of the district's mission, believes that every child should have the opportunity to be an active participant in a supervised group of his/her own maturity. In the group, his/her status and value as an individual should be recognized in a manner that will help him/her acquire a sense of self-direction and social responsibility in a democracy. The individual abilities of the child, both intellectual and physical, should be recognized by those in charge and developed to the utmost.   

The Board further recognizes that fundamental skills are necessary to each child's intellectual development. In addition, appropriate content in the commonly accepted fields of formal learning should be an integral part of each child's education. Through the attainment of fundamental skills and appropriate learning outcomes, each child should develop acceptable processes of thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving in order to sufficiently enable him/her to meet all situations intelligently at any time during his/her life.

The Board further believes that every child should acquire a knowledge of the basic values of a democracy political, economic, social, moral, and spiritual. This should be accomplished not only in the classroom but in every activity of the school life. In order to be certain of the child's training and growth, the professional staff should continuously examine and evaluate the results in terms of the aims of the educational program and the needs of the individual children.   While the district has the responsibility to provide all these opportunities, it is each child's responsibility to develop acceptable attitudes and skills needed to help him/her be an effective member of the society in which he/she lives.


In the actualization of the district's mission, the Board of Education will:      

  • ensure that all staff effectively deliver the curriculum and use assessment data to inform instructional practices in order to engage students in meaningful and relevant learning;
  • continue to maintain fiscal responsibility by prioritizing the use of existing resources, while pursuing additional revenue as well as supports available throughout our community;
  • actively engage student and families in all aspects of the learning process;
  • expand partnerships throughout our multicultural community to create innovative, relevant, and meaningful learning experiences for our students;
  • identify, model, integrate, and cultivate the positive character attributes valued by our multicultural community in order to create learning environments that foster mutual respect and collaboration;
  • actively engage staff, students, and families, in designing a system, which helps students set and achieve personally challenging educational goas, tailored to their interest and aspirations;
  • provide the facilities, technology, and infrastructure to support a comprehensive educational environment predicated on educational excellence.

CROSS REF:           2:10 (School District Governance), 3:10 (Goals and Objectives), 6:10 (Educational Philosophy and Objectives)

ADOPTED:           October 18, 2016