PEORIA -- An hour-long parade of speakers at the Peoria School District 150 Board of Education meeting begged the board not to destroy thriving educational communities by closing schools or replacing entire staffs.
The board is considering closing Garfield Elementary School and Columbia Middle School as well as replacing the staff at Peoria High School to get a $6 million grant that requires restructuring.
The public comments at the board meeting are functioning as a public hearing on these issues, but with less notice to the public.
Since the board refuses to televise the meetings (it claims to be waiting on Comcast to decide what to do), even though it could webstream the meetings to its website and do a podcast for later listening, as the Peoria County Board does (free!), I record the public comments, which are posted here:
Another issue raised by two parents occurred last week at Rolling Acres School, where two administrators are said to have blamed a seventh grade class for the death of a teacher!
The parents said their children were very upset to have been blamed for the death, and that children should not be blamed and the issue should not even have been discussed.
When they complained, the administrators didn't apologise and instead said the children misunderstood them, and then disciplined the children for lying. One also yells at the children, a mother said.
Other comments included pleas to ditch the Edison Schools, which cost the district nearly $1 million a year.
Activist Terry Knapp added that attempts to get accurate enrollment figures for the Quest Academy, the math and science charter school, have been stimied, and now appeals have gone to the Illinois Attorney General. He said it appears that 35 percent of the children admitted last fall by lottery are now gone.
Nationally, that is known as a way privatized schools get their test scores up, by counseling out low scoring children. Knapp pointed out that Edison and the Quest school are run by entrepreneurs whose goal is to make money.
-- Elaine Hopkins
Comment by Ed Dentino (via e-mail): Doing a quick read of the PJ Star report of the proposed District 150 school changes, several revisions are going in good directions. The approaches to vocational skills and parent involvement could help the students and the city. I hope to see more commentary from your pages on the various changes being considered.-30-
My response: I oppose closing schools, which disrupts entire communities of children, families and educators. Closing schools does not save money. It has not saved money to close Woodruff High School (and think of the kids who lost opportunities and communities with that closing).
Peoria does need an alternative high school program for disruptive students, and presumably ICC can take over adult education. Edison should go -- too expensive. Charter school should close -- takes bright kids away from their home communities. -30-