PEORIA -- The Peoria District 150 School Board meeting of Sept. 24, which included a public hearing on the budget as well as a general public hearing, touched on a sensitive issue: selling Peoria Stadium, and replacing it with a new stadium at Peoria High School.
Members of the public brought up the Peoria Stadium issue during the budget hearing, because it is a capital expense, though not on the budget. "The public should be involved in capital development," activist Terry Knapp said.
Activist Savino Sierra questioned why the district would spend tax funds on a new stadium when Peoria Stadium could be renovated. "It's a shame that when so many important things (are needed) we're spending money on a stadium," he said.
Board members responded. Laura Petelle said "this stadium issue is rumors," and the board wants to eliminate rumors from its discussions.
Board president Chris Crawford acknowledged "there's been speculation that the district will sell the stadium," but nothing has been decided. The board must first "do it's homework" and a decision will be a public process, he said.
Here is a recording of the comments, which were part of the budget public hearing.
At this meeting, a committee of the whole, which is a distinction without a difference from a regular meeting, the public comments are limited to two minutes instead of five. During the public comment section, Knapp mentioned the evaluation system for teachers, an issue in the Chicago teachers strike.
Paul Vallas, active in corporate school reform, has said teachers should only work for 10 years, thus relieving school districts from having to give them raises and pay their pensions, Knapp said. (Note: a true statement.) The city of Peoria once considering bringing Vallas to consult on District 150, Knapp said, but nothing came of it.
"This is a tragedy that we think of teachers in this way," Knapp said.
In response, Supt. Grenita Lathan and board member Rick Cloyd said Vallas has never been employed by District 150.
Lathan said District 150's evaluation system is designed to "help teachers grow."
But it was used last year to fire several teachers. Two are sueing, and others took payouts to leave instead of sueing.
Here is the recording from that section of the meeting.
-- Elaine Hopkins