If you are like my wife and and receive about 800 requests for funds or renew our memberships like the one just received from WTVP, you wonder where all that money goes. For example, an organization called Community Builders whose mission statement is "Our mission is to unite the Christian resources of Greater Peoria to meet the spiritual, economic, and social needs of our community", started out with a lot of hype, neighborhood canvases, grant money of at least $150,000+. Three targeted schools were Manual, Trewyn and Garfield. Joyce Banks was administrator. (Jane Baker is now in charge with a new phone #6965656). Another $10,000 grant was received in August, 2008 and another unspecified amount was received in a grant recently. Trewyn administration said there no after school programs this year by CB, the Garfield Principal, irritated over my questions, couldn't say but mentioned White Oak and Family Counseling; I called my friend Ron Tyler, who said no money or programs that he could ever remember from Community Builders and no one from Manual High returned my two requests. Nothing unusual there. The only way I can find out what goes on after school at Manual is drop by and talk to the janitors who know who is in the building after hours. They say, what "community" programs? So do I.
Charter Oak School does or did have after schools programs. Hope they are continuing.
These programs were to be "after school programs", not just summer programs and they were to involve the whole community surrounding the schools. See the JSEB Editorial dated 8/12/04, "Make better use of schools as neighborhood centers". The JS reported on 12/23/05, "Schools would be open 24/7". Superintendent Hinton said "We are linking up and developing new concepts for using schools beyond school hours". That was 2005 and sure they are, varsity football, track, basketball, baseball, volleyball, cheerleaders and some other sports with few participants.
Specifically, the JS reported on 9/25/05 the following "Ken Hinton yelled "Yes" when finding someone home while going door to door conducting his first resident survey of community needs and interest. Manual, Trewyn and Garfield plan to become 'full service community schools' this year, which means the will provide services and resources that the people want, said Hinton".
Ah, such great dreams and so poorly followed through and such apathy. There were to be committee after committee meeting with each school and each school was to have an "in school community director".
The program feel flat through lack of interest and administration. When I ask a soon to be departing school board member, she said check with Jim Stowell and "I wonder how much time we are taking out of administration to ask "bits" of information". The original administrator is gone and there is little money in the bank except for the new grant.
What community schools? The cash strapped JSEB couldn't even followup there own grand ideas. See their editorial of 8/12/04 titled "Make better use of schools as neighborhood centers". See my blog of 4/27/07, titled "Schools an all day affair?"
And a computer center (19 at last count) in the back of Manual High. This Center is operated by Workforce Network. The computers in Manual High can't be used after 2:30 five days a week.
Now 150 officials are saying "we will have 24/7" in the new schools. Why didn't they have them in the old schools? Where were Community Builders with their $150,000 grant? Oh, summer programs.
Now the largest provider of for the homeless, the YWCA, is starting a fund drive for $50,000 to expand their homeless shelter to another floor at 714 Hamilton.
I know people who give money for good causes never check to see how their money is used but they have a "good feeling about giving". Sure, these clubs like the Boys and Girls Club have boards of directors, some of them attending fund raising dinners for the advertised two locations, Grinnell and Kansas St. Problem was that Grinnell was closed in May 2007 but management did not notify some board members and evidently, Caterpillar who promoted a fund raising dinner a year after Grinnell was closed, listing both locations.
I've been saying for 15 years that Peoria has too many organizations all working for our youth (roughly 70 at one time) and many of them building their own bureaucracies, writing grants, hiring administrators and recruiting board members, many who lose interest, don't attend board meetings and in one case, one told me he didn't even know he was a board member. Back in the nineties, the B & G Club had 19 members. Four, including myself and the then police chief showed up to set the budget for submission to the United Way. The president, McFarland Bragg, showed up 20minutes late and asked for the agenda. The manager refused to give me program attendance numbers and I resigned. I believe they still have 19 "members" today.
Which leads me to ask about the Museum Committee composed of all these different organizations. So much conflicting news released to the press, including documentation released through their legal counsel, John Elias in conjunction with Peoria County in their request for an additional, $20 million plus public money received already, $40,000,000.00 new tax dollars to make up the fund drive shortfalls.
Which leads to my next blog on public tax spending transparency.