The original proposal of an academic alternative academy was brought to the Champaign School Board on November 12, 2007. That proposal, was for an academy that would meet in the evening at one of the high schools. The Board tabled that proposal because it did not meet during the day, it was not at a separate facility, and it did not provide an opportunity for students to participate in afterschool activities and athletics.

At the March 3, 2008 Board meeting, the Board approved a plan that created an academic alternative school for student grades 10-12 or age 16. The proposal called for a budget to support the hiring of a principal, secretaries, counselor, social worker, 6 teachers, a computer aide, custodian and food service worker. At the time of the approval a location was still being sought. In an update to the Board in February 2009, the Academy was described as a comprehensive alternative program designed to meet the needs of non-traditional students in a nurturing environment. The first year enrollment fluctuated between 45 and 55 students and assisted 25 students in meeting their graduation requirements.

The Academy offered shorter academic sessions allowing students to block schedule their day and focus on three or four courses at a time. It also provided computer courses and individual support sessions.

The Academic Academy was renamed the Novak Academy in honor of Greg Novak after his death in March of 2012. Mr. Novak had worked as a librarian in the district for 31 years while also serving as the president of the CFT. After retirement, he was an elected member to the Board of Education during which time the development of an alternative program became very important to him. He visited alternative programs, and possible locations, bringing the information back to the committees that worked on the development of the Academy. He was very proud of the Academic Academy and the work being done by the staff and students there. He visited often to insure that the mission of the Academy was being implemented with fidelity. The Academy was officially dedicated as the Novak Academy at a ceremony on November 15, 2012.

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