On May 23, the PPS board approved the purchase of chemistry curriculum learning materials for high school students to support the district's science curriculum revision plan, Spanish guided reading resources to help students improve English language proficiency and reading skills for Glen Oak and Harrison schools, and a supplemental Black History social studies curriculum for grades 5-8.
The board also heard the annual update from Quest Academy, which currently has 221 middle school students and 241 high school students with 57 seniors graduating on June 2 in Quest's seventh graduating class. All seniors are on track to graduate and advance to post-secondary education with 27 students attending two-year colleges and 34 being accepted into four-year institutions.
Becky Doubleday, Observer
At the May meeting two representatives participated by phone, one was absent and 5 were in-person for the meeting.
Manager’s Report included 49 burials to date in 2022 which is higher than previous years.
Cheryl Budzinski, Observer
The meeting took place in the small conference room due to HVAC construction. All trustees were in attendance in person or via phone or video conferencing.
Board of Trustees meeting: FY 23 officers were unanimously re-elected and consent agenda passed unanimously.
Investment Committee meeting: Investments are getting higher interest rates 2.06% for T Bills. Off setting that is greatly increased costs for chemicals and electricity. Stock market being up means the pension fund is significantly better which impacts the budget positively. The PPRT (Personal Property Replacement Taxes) revenue is also up significantly and is used for capitol projects.
Finance: The State of Illinois has many past due GPSD bills. Still working with utility billing software which would need to interact with IL American Water usage data. GPSD is using Cyber security software.
Operations: There were no violations, no backups. They received a Peak Performance Award for the second year. GPSD is ahead of regulations regarding phosphorus using biological removal – 80% reduction. One of two “screw pumps” went out and they are dealing with it as an internal maintenance project. (They also have a backup pump.) Of note nearby but downstream is the high Kickapoo Creek phosphorus level which is due to farm fields and residential septic systems. Also contributing can be stream erosion. There is a Bradley student summer study going on.
Construction & Planning: new residential connections are up this year. Approved $60,699 change order to a sewer lining project which needed bypass pumping and included unexpected pipe failures.
GPSD will participate in an Illinois watershed study group.
Ameren may want an old landfill site that GPSD owns for a community solar project. However there was discussion about the degraded panels at the end of panel life including heavy metals.
The Audit will be reviewed at the July meeting.
Cheryl Budzinski, Observer
The Peoria County Board held its regular meeting May 12th with all present but Member Pastucha and two members participating via phone-Members Elsasser and Rieker.
A proclamation recognizing the 36th Annual Gerald Brookhart Arts in Education Spring Celebration began the meeting. Monica Hendrickson, Peoria City County Health Department Administrator’s tenth anniversary with the department was also recognized.
There were no Citizen’s Remarks.
The Consent Agenda passed on a vote of 17-0 without discussion. Items approved included:
Link to the meeting agenda and video are here:
The quorum of the monthly meeting included only Commissioners Manning, Bartolo, and Williamson in attendance. Discussion on the payment of returned vote by mail ballots was deferred until next month because Commissioner Burke has some input but could not attend the May meeting.
During his report of the executive director, Tom Bride told the Board that primary ballots to be sent overseas would go out on Saturday, May 14, and early voting would start May 19. Training on the new voting equipment is continuing throughout the month of May. Staff is still working through various issues such as provisional ballots.
In addition to the dropbox at the Election Office, two more boxes will be located at the Civic Center Box Office and the North Branch Library in Peoria. They will be available for two weeks starting June 13. They have not yet been installed, and will have a better camera. Staff is working on an intergovernmental agreement with the library and will probably have one as well with the Civic Center. There was a short discussion about the possibility of people putting many ballots in a drop box at one time. Director Bride assured the Board that each ballot goes through the same vetting process, checking signatures against those on file.
Cardboard voting booths have been procured from St. Louis County and will be used until permanent ones arrive from the vendor.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
During the Township portion of the meeting, the Trustees certified the actions taken at the April 12, 2022 Annual Meeting regarding placement of an advisory question of public policy at general election to be held on November 8, 2022: “Should the State of Illinois Adopt an Independent Citizens Commission for the Federal and State Redistricting Process, that Would be Guided by Principles Established in Fair Maps Initiatives?” This will be submitted to the Peoria County Election Commission by the Town Clerk to be placed on November 8, 2022 ballot.
Consent agenda of nine items approved without discussion. Under regular business, the Council approved CDBG Public Service Commission to funding for non-profit capital program in amount of $563,085.00. These funds will be used for neighborhood revitalization and healthy living programs.
The Public Works department was recognized for its efforts to coordinate area road repairs and avoid conflict with state roadwork schedule over the next year. Some of the areas to be addressed are Orange Prairie Road, Nebraska from University to Sterling Ave, Allen Road from Northmoor to War Memorial Dr.
Council deferred voting on Video Gaming Ordinance until May 24, 2022 meeting. Information on fee structure for other communities in Illinois is available city website (go to Agenda, click on item 22-119 to view), as well as proposed Ordinance. The next council meeting is scheduled for May 24, 2022. Minutes, agendas and recordings of meetings are available at https://peoriail.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Connie Romanus, Observer
Peoria Public Schools
On May 9, the PPS board approved a new K-4 math curriculum for the district at a cost of $897,706. Piloted this school year, the new curriculum is expected to better prepare younger students for Algebra 1 readiness, introducing grade-appropriate concepts earlier.
The board was also presented details of an amended 2021-22 district budget. A public hearing of the amended budget is scheduled for Monday, June 13 at the regularly scheduled PPS board meeting. Details of the amended budget are posted on the district's website at https://peoriapublicschools.org.
Becky Doubleday, Observer
The May 2, 2022 PHA Board of Commissioners met for regular monthly meeting in person and virtually.
Several individuals spoke during community comments at beginning of meeting. One resident of Sterling Towers complained about bed bug infestation that has led to sleeping in car. CEO Newman planned to meet with this person after meeting. Landlord complained about communications and lack respect of PHA employees. He needed to have electrician do some repairs and inspection scheduled before work completed.
Minutes of the regular meeting of March 7, 2022 were approved, as well as, closed session meeting of March 7, 2022, and special meeting of March 31, 2022. This Observer is monitoring PHA website for posting of meeting minutes within 10 days of Board approval per IL Open Meetings Act (OMA). As of May 18, 2022, the minutes of February 7 and March 7, 2022 meetings are not available on website. It is also noted that CEO report and reports listed under Consent Agenda are not readily available to the public to review. This lack of transparency raises concerns that PHA does not have an effective plan in place to follow Open Meeting Act. e. Note: LWVGP requested FOIA in March from PHA to review meeting reports and minutes not posted at that time. PHA staff and legal representative forwarded records that were requested in reasonable timeframe.
Reports approved by consent agenda.
Resolution approved to amend employment contract of new Chief Executive Officer, who started April 25, 2022.
Under new business, Chair Cannon announced “lunch and learn” meeting scheduled for Board members on May 17, 2022.
The next scheduled meeting of the PHA Board of Commissioners is June 6, 2022 at 4:30 P.M. Connie Romanus, Observer
Council members approved consent agenda -thirteen items- unanimously, as well as minutes of April 12, 2022 joint city council and township minutes.
Communication from City Manager Urich to approve intergovernmental agreement to establish public health equity fund between city, Peoria County and Peoria County Board of Health of $600,000 over four years. Goal to address health and safety outcomes in impoverished areas. Mayor Ali suggested presentation of plan as it is developed.
Communication from City Manager and Director of Community Development presented to approve amending comprehensive plan that includes East Bluff Housing Needs Assessment and Community Revitalization Plan. Plan supported by third district Councilor Riggenbach and passed by ten to one vote, John Kelly opposed.
Council passed ordinance to amend Chapter 31 of Code of City of Peoria relating to stormwater utility fee. This allows for property owners who are able to prove all stormwater was retained on property may be eligible for additional reduction in fee. This application process requires submission of engineering reports and other paperwork.
Finance Director Cratty presented overview of pension fund structures in Illinois and ongoing consolidation of police and fire pensions. See minutes at www.peoriaorg.gov for full discussion.
Continued concerns regarding panhandling at intersections and public safety had the attention of the council and citizens. Interim Corporation Counsel Kapustka gave presentation on existing state laws and ordinances related to this issue, as well as provided options being used by other municipalities.
City Manager Urich communicated information on predicted Ameren energy rate increases related to Regional Energy Supply Auction on April 14, 2022. The current contract with City will expire at end of May 2022, resulting in energy purchases on volatile market. More information is anticipated over next few weeks. Rate increases raised from $5.00/megawatt to $236.00/megawatt and could result in consumer expense increase of $500.00 per year.
The Peoria City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 6:00 P.M. You can listen on WCBU radio, view on public access channel 22 or watch online https://peoriail.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Connie Romanus, Observer
The Peoria Public Schools Board held its regularly scheduled meeting on April 25, 2022 with all seven board members present.
PPS Announcements (Upcoming Events)
PPS Awards and Recognitions
Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat congratulated four PPS teachers – Emily Dawson, Shannon Sailer, Michelle Salazar and Lauren Wulf for earning advanced teaching credentials by achieving National Board Certification. The rigorous program, which is paid for by the state for eligible teachers, takes educators approximately two years to complete.
Student Showcase: Middle School Speech Team
Six PPS middle schools implemented a new speech and debate program targeted at fourth graders to improve their oral communication, vocabulary, analytical writing and public speaking skills. The schools – Glen Oak, Harrison, Lincoln, Trewyn, Roosevelt and Sterling – are using a program developed by Bradley alumni Salvatore Trajino of Advantage Communications. The hope is that next year up to 350 students will participate. The PPS District Championship is Saturday, May 14 at Manual High School.
District Presentation: Woodruff Career & Technical Center Solar Panel Installation
Installation of 545 solar panels at Woodruff Career & Technical Center should generate more than 318,000kWhs and offset 226 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. The construction process including roof updates began in 2019 and was funded by a $1.6 million award from the Edwards Power Plant. Contractor Ruyle estimates school district saving about $16,000 annually. Students in Woodruff’s Renewable Energy Program have been able to observe throughout the construction process, which has produced approximately 1,400 union job hours. Next semester students will monitor the solar panels, studying the energy production onsite.
The Consent Agenda, which can be found at https://peoriapublicschools.org/domain/57, was approved unanimously.
To see the meeting, go to the Peoria Public Schools YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFNu3PTGzEyjDH6qV7FKSnA.
Becky Doubleday, Observer
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