Local government agencies working closely together is not always the norm. However, the Urbana Park District and Urbana School District 116 have developed many partnerships that both agencies benefit from, leading to advantages for Urbana’s citizens. In these partnerships, both agencies do what they do best resulting in efficiencies and economies of scale, as well as more excellent outcomes.
Current joint ventures include:
Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center
The Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center is a joint facility of both the school and park districts. Construction was made possible through a bond referendum. The school district owns the facility and uses it during school hours for PE programs and for swim team events. The park district manages the facility, providing trained staff and offering lessons and recreation programs during non-school hours. A new intergovernmental agreement was signed in 2016 to continue jointly providing indoor swimming for the community.
The partnership was recognized by Governor Rauner and Lt. Governor Sanguinetti in the 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices.
Students Playing and Learning After School Hours is a program where Urbana Middle Schoolers can stay after to both complete homework and participate in recreation programs. Urbana Park District staff members provide programs that supplement those offered by certified teachers and school staff. In addition to recreation and educational help, the students get free transportation home and a light dinner. Funding sources for this service have been reduced drastically in recent years, so the park district upped its financial contribution to help the program continue at a high level.
Park sites for school use
The Urbana Middle School uses tennis courts in nearby Blair Park for Physical education classes and the courts are the home courts for Urbana High School Tennis. Additionally, a ball field in Urbana’s Prairie Park is the home location for Urbana High School Baseball.
“Urbana is a community where we work to get to know each other, and where we believe in playing to each other’s strengths. Parks and schools are natural partners when you keep a broader focus. It takes real work to have a partnership like this, and it benefits the whole community when you do,” explained Michael Walker, President of the Urbana Park District Board of Commissioners.