Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Peoria School District #150 Forum

A guy who thinks like I do, I hope he reads my blogs, was John Sahn at the umpteenth public input session last night. John said, "I look at this enterprise as a $160 million business, and it seem to me that business leadership and business ability is a (the, my comment) key element to this position". Glen Barton, you should know that.

Other comments were typical such as lack of communication, what's new, why do you think, school board, that only 8 people showed up to your "forum". We're tired of showing up and our input disregarded.

Diane Vespa said we should hire someone with "charisma"; Diane were you thinking of an Obama type? Diane, where was your following last night?

Max Pogue, as usual, nailed it pretty well, by saying "we need a sense of where we we are, where we need to go and a constantly updated road map to get us there". Max, as to the creative part, these talents can always be hired and fired if they don't work out. They do not need "golden parachutes" like an administrator will demand. Remember Kay?

Of course, representatives of the $45,000, includes expenses, consulting firm, were in attendance, plus $300 a day (night?), $36,000 a year, not bad for someone retired, consultant who will be "in charge of project implementations". I figure the cost of last night meeting came to around $3200 divided by 8 in attendance or about $400 a head.

Of course, it is not quantity that counts but quality.

I close with comments from Julie Schiefling, a Bradley employee with a impressive title, who wrote not too long ago in the JS, "District 150 is doing well trying to involve parents. She said she can attest that there are parents who are interested, etc., etc. She touts success at Manual with the creation of a parent advisory council. Whatever happened to the power of PTA or PTO's? With the public school system being around for a couple of centuries I don't believe "advisory councils" are anything new.

Where were these parents last night???????

I'm not sure how much #150 is in debt but I suspect it will exceed $100 million counting the borrowed money to build the new schools. That's just the principal. The interest will be about another 70-80 million. Plus 150 takes in about 55% of everybody's property tax bill. This tax borne by the approximately 50% that pay property taxes.

A highly publicized forum with a turn out of 8. That's eight like in 8, and I'll bet part of the school board don't understand why. Many of us have been intelligently advising the board (myself, for more than 15 years) but they appear to listening to everybody but still can't make enough good decisions.

On the other hand, this community has too many committtees. Maybe that's why we don't get more of our priorities taken care of before we keep building more amenities to keep the "creative class" here. Were any of those types in the audience last night?


Mike said...

Great summary of the pointlessness that continues to go on.

The parents that really give a damn send their kids the parochial school or home school. Who is left?

Also, 150 is constantly jerking you around. Some parents don't think they have any say in what happens because of the constant state of crisis.

I think the only thing that can help this mess are vouchers for parents to make a school choice.

Merle Widmer said...

Thanks, Mike. If you read my older blogs, you know I have asked consideration be given to a new start.

My plan: The School Board would consist of three full time members, up for re-election every three years. They would have connecting offices in the current administration building with one full time secretary to be shared. Board must appoint an advisory board to consist of 5 to 7 people selected by the board from all geographic areas of the district to give resonably fair representation. Term of unpaid members of the Advisory Board not to exceed 3 years. To prevent an entire turover of both boards, terms may be staggered.

Administrative executive positions would be reduced to offset board salaries.

If laws need to be changed, that's why we have representatives representing us in Springfield.

They say "think outside of the box". Here is a start. The system we have hasn't worked in almost 3 decades.

Please respond.

Merle Widmer said...

Mike, Paid full time board members and unpaid Advisory Board member appointed by the full board.

Diane Vespa said...

I agree with that last comment, Merle. A major structural overhaul is in order. I was disappointed in the turn-out as well, but sadly, I understand the dynamics behind it. Families and taxpayers feel powerless against the will of the of the Board of Ed. and the Administration which they act subserviant to. Google the theory of "learned helplessness". I, on the other hand, probably won't give up until the last dog dies.

Amy Kennard said...

I agree with Diane. Parents do feel powerless after reading about the latest "schedule change" courtesy of the Journal Star. It seems all letters and emails fall on deaf ears, and by the time we as parents get to them, their decisions have already been made. I agree that parental involvement in the schools is key to District 150's success - THAT is where parents can really make a difference.

Diane Vespa said...

I think that the district should instate policies that tie in free and reduced services to performance requirements on the part of the parents.

Anonymous said...

You are wrong when you say the Board doesn't listen to the public; remember the Glen Oak Park/school fiasco? Who do you think stopped that disaster? Councilman Bob Manning and the neighborhood associations and the interested public, that's who!

Diane Vespa said...

and a court of law if I'm not mistaken.

Mike said...

In business, when you start to lose money because of poor management, bad product or results, that is the best incentive for improvement. Since market forces are absent from the 150 funding stream, then little real changes will take effect. The secret is though is that the property tax base in Peoria is eroding and this trend will likely continue. 150 will continue to lose students and money in the future and the Board should have addressed this many years ago when the trends became evident.

I agree that the board structure could be improved, and greater parental involvement would help, but these suggestions don't address the core structural deficiencies that exist. The same people that run the place are in charge of reform and the funding model is broken. That conflict of interest won't work to enact reform, and short-sighted careerists rule the day.

Vouchers. Let parents choose what school they want for their kids. I think we would see some pretty quick changes at that point.

Anonymous said...

I like Mike.

Merle Widmer said...


It was the Peoria Park District Board who voted 4-3 to not allow #150 on park grounds.

The school board voted 5-2 to proceed. Source - JS - 12/19/06 - Alicia Butler and Martha Ross listened to the public, not the majority of the park board.


Anonymous said...

Brad Livingston

why is it municipal things refer to thenselves as businesses. If district 150 is like buiness isn't true it is General Motors then. They not spend what they don't have and cut back in a recession. I only eat green peas for dinner. No has any money anymore cause peoria can't provide jobs and when majors are on tv saying bla bla bla, but of their viewers are unemployeed

behind all the bull out 150, is they don't give damn about the schools. Most of the people out of 150 are a bunch of lossers anyway

Anonymous said...

Greg Sharp

writes good lord don't hire anymore people in district 150, like a point man that really dumb, its not working 150 so there no point in following through with hiring more point men to get district 150 more in debt

and stuff about court of law ignorant, this is illinois, illinois will always favor their own government systems naturally


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