PEORIA, IL -- The Peoria District 150 School Board heard a budget report which included some cuts and threats of more, at its May 9 meeting. The total deficit is $9.7 million, said to be "not supportable."
The Journal Star has a report on this.
But when the public comments rolled around, people mentioned what had been ignored, the legal bills and textbook costs.
Critic Sharon Crews said the district last year spent $563,000 on new textbooks, and wasted $400,000 on a bar code system that is not being used. These costs were under the previous superintendent but many on the school board were serving then.
See her written report below.
Critic Terry Knapp said $1 million in attorney fees were not mentioned in the budget report. Plus the district has an 'in-house' attorney who does not do collective bargaining, so out of town lawyers are doing that.
He also questioned the Peoria Alignment program costs, and said later it's just a "feel good" program.
Sevino Sierra said the three minute time limit is too brief, and added he won't rest until the five minutes is restored.
Dan Walther, who recently was elected to the board to take his seat on July 1 said he had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out who the candidates for the vacant seat were. He wanted to be part of the interview process, he said, since he will be working with the person.
He also said the district could save $250,000 a year by reinstating its in-house police force, which was disbanded, apparently under state law. The General Assembly is poised to make it legal again, he said, citing SB 3272.
In response, several board members defended the interview process. The superintendent and others said the new textbooks were needed, to replace some that are 15 to 20 years old.
Here is a recording of the comments:
-- Elaine Hopkins
Here are the comments of Sharon Crews:
I believe most of the textbook expenditures listed on my handout are burdens created by the last administration. From May 2015 to April 2016, over $563,000 was spent for books.
The report shows one lost book each for Harrison, Hines, and Lincoln, three from Mark Bills, two from Washington Gifted, and 59 from Peoria High. The data shows the other schools had no lost books. No money was collected. The data states that an inventory was taken on July 1, 2015. I certainly do not believe that the total number of lost books is 67.
The FOIA response letter states, “At this time, the District does not have a system in place to collect lost book fees. The Follett barcoding system, which cost over $400,000, does not provide a method of identifying the barcode number of what specific book was issued to which student. The District’s old way was for each student to fill out a card for each book. Has anything replaced that system?
The hodgepodge of Follett orders (my number 12) for over $42,000 could be replacements for lost books. I certainly wonder why $65,000 was spent on more Reading Mastery materials.
Why did Richwoods need 45 IB Mathematics texts and 45 AP American Government texts? Also, why were new Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry texts for $182,000 needed for all three high schools?
I am curious to know how many orders are related to Common Core demands. Does the District feel compelled to yield to texts related to Common Core methods.
I was especially curious about a $6900 Grammar Graphics program, which purports to taking “students beyond identifying parts of speech to using the parts of speech in patterns to express thoughts.” The program shows children, especially non-English speaking students, that English sentences follow a specific pattern.
I truly laughed when I found this description on line. In the 80s I developed a series of assignments, teaching students the 8 patterns—the order of words followed in all English simple sentences, and independent and dependent clauses. My point is not to brag about what I did, but to point out that Common Core has not discovered new ways of teaching grammar or anything else.
Traditionally, teachers have been told what to teach but not how to teach it. That is where our creativity and desire to respond to students’ needs kicks in. Probably every teacher in District 150 has come up with a $6000 way of presenting material. Why not ask teachers for their ideas—you may not have to spend all this money on these superfluous programs. - 30 -