PEORIA, IL -- The Peoria District 150 School Board on April 23 did a wonderful thing: they passed a resolution "recommending the "discontinuation the discontinuation of the River Trail Apartments Project and the Northside Riverfront TIF."
The board needs the money from the TIF (tax increment financing) district, which the city of Peoria sets up and controls.
Most of the school district's areas are in TIFs, board vice president Dan Adler said. "I'd rather make bets on our schools and teachers," than on the city's economic development projects, even though economic development is needed, he said.
Board member Dan Walther agreed. "In this case we have to do what's in the best interest of the school and students," he said.
Board president Martha Ross said the school district still wants to cooperate with the city, but will have "tough conversations" when needed.
A Peoria Journal Star story on April 23 stated that the district has lost $28 million in tax funds to TIFS since 2000.
Public comments backed up a vote to approve the board's resolution. I pointed out that District 150 children use Riverfront Park for a project that benefits handicapped students.
Friends of Riverfront Park president Karrie Alms said an environmental justice issue is also at stake, since people living near Riverfront Park have access to nature there, when they may not have transportation to other sites.
Other public comments supported renaming a school for Dr. Maude Sanders, a prominent African American physician in Peoria.
Activist Terry Knapp said a long time high school teacher he knows who is "excellent," was recently given an unsatisfactory review by a new and inexperienced administrator. The district has 40 openings for teachers, and this one would be very difficult to replace, Knapp said later.
Others praised teachers, who do the real work of the school district. About 200 people rallied outside before the meeting, to kick off contract negotiations.
Activist Sharon Crews continued her issue of resuming high school summer school. Her written comments are below. (Money from the TIF districts would help finance summer school.)
Here is a recording of the comments.
-- Elaine Hopkins
From Sharon Crews:
These are some comments I found online about the positives of summer school. Data from a 2013 California study stated the following:
Students taking part in summer school substantially increased their academic and social skills, ended the summer with vocabulary skills much closer to their grade level, improved their work habits. and became more confident in their ability to learn.
The following are very good reasons why summer school should be reinstated.
1-Retaking failed classes during the school year can overwhelm a student by increasing their class load or causing them to struggle more if they take another class on the same subject.
2-Making up failed electives is not as serious as failing core classes, but not making them up can have a negative effect on college admissions and on a student’s GPA.
3-Summer School gives more time to learn the basics of the subject. During the school year middle and high school classes mimic the fast-paced world in which we live.
Unfortunately, some teens learning English, math, and science may not be able to keep up and end up getting lost. Consider that each step is a building block for the next concept in the course, so it isn’t a mystery why many teens do not pass a class the first time around. The extra time that these teens need is offered during summer school.
4- Students may pass a previously failed course because summer school might offer a different approach to learning the subject and a different teacher. The more relaxed environment with smaller classes can contribute to a boost in a student’s confidence and a more positive attitude toward school in general.
5-Summer school gives students a second chance to obtain class credit and avoid doubling up on a core class during the school year. Each state requires a certain amount of core classes to be taken and passed before a student can graduate. Even if students aren’t going to college, they may still have to pass four math classes (including algebra and geometry) to obtain their diploma.
This can be demoralizing to teens that have a hard time with math. If they fail one and have to take two the next year, that can be too much math at one time. This can lead to more failure and the possibility of the teenager dropping out of school. Summer school is a solution.
6-During summer school, students will be able to focus on just that particular class. Remember that teenagers face the type of trauma that adults face: deadlines and the push to perform well. Summer school can help teens who get overloaded by having too many classes to focus on at one time.
7-Summer school will give students the chance to raise their grade point averages. When it is all said and done, summer school will give students the chance to get back on the right track. A failure in any class really hurts students’ cumulative averages and can cost them the chance of getting into the college or technical school of their choice.
8-While letting an elective class go and not retaking it is an option, summer school grades replace the failing grade already earned. That will raise students’ GPA.
Personally, I learned that the three-hour summer school classes allowed me to spend more time with individual students who found it difficult to juggle requirements of four to six classes. A negative that is really a positive is that the threat of summer school is an incentive for students to work harder during the school year.
Please, please stop cheating our students of the opportunities offered by summer school. None of the current alternatives solve the serious problems I have mentioned. - 30 -