PEORIA, IL -- The public comments at the Peoria District 150 School Board meeting on Oct. 27 revealed wasted funds that might have been federal Title One money.
Board critic Sharon Crews reported that two years of data from a Freedom of Information request showed Manual school students enjoying movies, basketball games and food likely paid for by the federal funds.
Her written report is posted below.
Here is a recording of the public comments.
Critic Terry Knapp questioned why District 150 personnel apparently did not attend two recent public meetings on the Common Core educational standards.
"Hundreds of thousands" are spent to "go places" but these events in Peoria and Washington, IL were ignored, he said.
Knapp is suspicious of the standards after attending the meetings. "There are flaws," he said. The East Peoria School Board has passed a resolution against them, he said.
Knapp noted that he once predicted that No Child Left Behind would fail, and that occurred. It was aimed at promoting charter schools and private schools. The Common Core standards may be more of the same, he said.
A teacher questioned a reading program, Reading Mastery, and said it's "scripted instruction" used where teachers lack training. The teacher says something and the class repeats it, she said. "Literature is gone," she said, along with class discussion that leads to critical thinking.
In her response, Supt. Grenita Lathan said it's only "one component" of language instruction.
-- Elaine Hopkins
Here is the comment from Sharon Crews:
Two years of data about Manual Academy field trips to Landmark and the Civic Center were requested through the FOIA. Eleven events were reported but invoices were provided for only two events, the amount paid was not given for four events, and the fund charged was reported for only one event. These facts are not secret, so why the unwillingness to reveal the data?
I have given you two documents—a request for one hundred and fifty students to attend March Madness in 2013 for $975 charged, I believe, to Title I and an invoice for 133 students to go to a movie at Landmark and 20 to bowl and eat lunch for a total of $921.50.
Perhaps you could shed some light on the legitimacy of spending Title I money on March Madness. The attempt to justify this expense is ludicrous--to learn how to be physically fit and create a plan for healthy living. They will supplement their ongoing unit on basic basketball by attending.
Another ridiculous excuse for a trip to the Landmark theater was that the social group will add value and personal development to the lives of the students and this trip will take them out of their immediate community. Taking Manual students to Landmark is getting them out of their community. What!! My guess is that this trip was, also, paid by Title I funds.
Even if these trips are legitimate uses for Title I money, is there an equal amount of money set aside for Peoria High and Richwoods students for such activities? In two years over 225 Manual students had their way paid to a movie; in January, 2013, one hundred fifty Manual students went to Landmark at a cost of $975 plus $550 for three buses—no reason given.
I certainly do not begrudge giving students these opportunities, but I question using the Ed Fund or Title I to pay for these extras.
Forty-five years of Manual students and faculty came together last week to pay tribute to Wayne McClain, who brought honor to Manual as did all those who honored him. Thursday at an ICC dinner honoring over 300 scholarship recipients, the greeting was given by Manual grad Rita Ali and the main speaker was Manual grad, counselor, and coach Derrick Booth. Reconstruction did great harm to Manual High School but the relationships forged there are still strong and its graduates have made their mark. Their stories are our AVID. The last two weeks have brought tears of pride to my eyes. - 30 -