PEORIA -- The public comments at the Peoria School District 150 board meeting on Jan. 28 came after a long evening of video propaganda on how well the vocational programs at Woodruff Career and Technology Center are going.
The board continues to make the public wait until the end of the meeting to present comments at its so-called 'committee of the whole' meetings, a distinction without a difference from the regular meetings.
Here are the comments:
Activist Sharon Crews questioned whether the board's expenditure of $245,000 to bar code all the school books will prevent them from being lost. See a written copy of he remarks below.
Activist Terry Knapp for once praised Supt. Grenita Lathan for the vocational programs at Woodruff.
Parent Scott Donahue commended the board and Lathan on increased security at schools but said the middle and primary schools need more security officers. "That is money well spent, not a bar code system or binders," he said.
Activist Sevino Sierra questioned why school buildings are not maintained well while new construction proceeds, and also mentioned a sore point with many, the break up of neighborhoods when their schools were closed.
-- Elaine Hopkins
Here are Crews' comments:
You have just spent a quarter of a million dollars on a bar-coding system. How is this expenditure going to eliminate the cost of lost and damaged books? Teachers don’t lose books; students do.
You have found yet another way to hold teachers and schools accountable. Until you find a way to hold students accountable for lost books, this new purchase will not save you any money—it’s just an added cost.
Experience tells me that unintentional or deliberate doodling will occur often enough to destroy the barcoding. You may have to add another discipline code number. I know you just explained the expected savings, but for now call me a skeptic.
I am anxious to hear how you plan to carry out the monumental task of gathering all textbooks in order to barcode them. I assume it will have to be done in the summer. How many employees and man-hours will it take to complete this task? What is that cost?
Can we guarantee that this work will be done before school starts next year? Or can we anticipate yet another year when students will not receive textbooks until well after the start of the school year?
Also, please tell me again how the agenda of a committee meeting of the whole differs from that of a regular meeting. The only difference, of course, is that we are speaking at the end of the meeting and for only 2 minutes.
-- Sharon Crews
IN ADDITION, Sharon added this on 1/29/13:
Cloyd assured me (in the response to comments) that the barcoding machine would tie the book to a student--so they would be held accountable. I guess he doesn't understand that the money has to be collected before students are held accountable--I'm sending the following message to board members and I'm going to request information about lost books using the Freedom of Information Act.
I would like to respond to Mr. Cloyd’s response to my comments at the January 28 board meeting. Yes, of course, the barcoding will tie a particular book to a particular student. Yes, the use of modern technology will make it easier to keep records. However, the old system did the same thing.
There has always been a record of who lost what book. I assume you are already aware that all textbooks are numbered, that students fill out cards for each textbook given to them, and that the students get the cards back when they return the books. That part of the system works. I assume that students will still be given some sort of receipt as proof that they return books at the end of the year.
There was never a problem in identifying who lost a book. The problem is that—in the last twenty or so years--District 150 has not found a way or had the will to hold students accountable for the cost of lost or damaged books. I was simply trying to say that the barcodes will not solve the problem. Maybe a GPS system for books should be invented.
I am sorry but I feel that you have paid considerable money for a system that will not solve the real reason for the expense of replacing lost textbooks.
I realize that one school might have a surplus of a particular text that could be needed at another school. Over the years I believe there has been carelessness about maintaining an inventory of books. There was a time when the system worked much better. The barcoding might resolve that problem—but I believe the more costly problem—books lost by students—will remain unresolved.
In her response to public comments, I thought Dr. Lathan
said the barcoding would be completed before the end of school. How can that be if students are still in
possession of books? -30-