Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Update on the Dunlap School Board budget meeting...

Update on the Dunlap School Board meeting for those who requested it: 

The meeting started promptly at 7:00 PM at Dunlap Valley Middle School. The Board presented a slide show that illustrated a stagnation in EAV (property taxes) at the same time the student enrollment is sky-rocketing. These conditions have created a budget deficit for the 2014/15 school year. To offset this structural deficit, the board will increase property taxes (via their levy) approximately $35 for every $100,000 of property value. Even with that, there will still be a $2.1 million dollar deficit.

The chart below outlines how they plan to balance the budget. Activity fees will be charged for extra-curriculars plus there will be program reductions as well as reductions in staff. A lot of parents spoke. The overwhelming theme is to cut as far away from the classroom as possible. Karen Disharoon asked for a breakdown in the staff reduction expenditure at least in regards to teacher/Admin ratio.

Parents want transparency in the process as well as input. The vote on the budget will be sometime in February. Karen and I are planning to organize a parent-oversight co-op to monitor the meetings and website and to funnel parent feedback to the Board of Education.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

THE talk.

Overheard at my house this morning:

The Dad: "Here Sweetie this came out of J's backpack this morning"

 Me: "OH, No! A visit to the Hult Center - When life begins".

 J: "What's so bad about that? I already know when life begins. A baby starts out as a little speck".

 The Dad: "Yes, the stork brings a speck to your house"

 Mom and Dad Giggling

 J: "Why are you guys laughing?"

 Me: "No reason. Just go on the field trip and if you have any questions afterwards ask your Dad".

 I am so proud of how mature we can handle this subject matter with our kids.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A word about the Dunlap School Board races....

Dunlap School Board Races - Choose Three!

It has been reported that some Dunlap School Board candidates and their supporters are asking voters to punch the ballot ONLY for them, even though there are three open seats! (There are three seats, and four candidates). In my opinion, this is an attempt to disenfranchise you, and suggests at least to me that the campaign is thinking only of their own personal welfare, and not the overall health of the School District and the students they seek to serve.

To thrive and improve, a school district needs every member (not just one) of it's Board of Education to be the most highly qualified person ready willing and able to carry out the duties and responsibilities of this most crucial organization. An election is not about an individual - but rather, a movement to determine which seven people will be the best representative and advocates for our children.

If any candidate or their supporters tell you to ONLY punch the ballot for their preferred candidate (even though there are three), give some thought to doing the opposite, as I'm not sure they truly understand the mission.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A word about.... Mine subsidence - UPDATED

Recently our State Farm agent has been calling and e-mailing incessantly wanting us to sign a "mine subsidence" waiver of insurance on our home- owners insurance policy. Apparently, the standard residential homeowners policy does not include coverage for damage due to mine subsidence. So after the latest call, (following my failure to act and return the document), I started wondering if I should be putting more thought into this "waiver". I posted a question on our Realtor Facebook Page, asking fellow Peoria Area agents to comment if they had more than my mediocre knowledge of the subject. Jason Catton of RE/MAX Acclaimed was kind enough to offer this link to the Illinois State Geological Survey.

It's a map from the Illinois State Geological Survey showing a legend of old mine activity. You can type in a complete property address and it will overlay a color-coded map of old coal mines over the subject area. By executing these steps, you can see if there may be an old coal mine underneath your home. It's quite fascinating, and if you drag the map around and look at the Charter Oak area, as well as the Bartonville and South Peoria area, you'll see that it would at least appear, you might want to consider purchasing that Mine Subsidence addendum. Generally speaking, according to the Geological records, it appears that most of Peoria County North of War Memorial Drive is in the clear.

The following comment appeared when the forums linked to this blog article:

The Illinois Mine Subsidence Act was passed in 1979, and mandated that property insurers offer coverage for the peril of mine subsidence. There are 34 counties where coverage is automatically rolled onto policies, however the insured has the option to waive coverage in writing. For a list of those counties, ask your insurance agent, or see the website cited below. In the remaining counties, coverage can be added to the policy by request. Through the same legislation, the Illinois Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund was created to provide reinsurance for companies who pay mine subsidence losses. Although created by the state, the Fund is not a state agency. When an insured suspects their property has been damaged by mine subsidence, they should notify their primary insurer, who will file the claim with the Fund. For more information about mine subsidence, mine subsidence insurance, or issues surrounding mine subsidence such as buying or selling a home in mine subsidence affected areas, please visit our website at: or call us at 800-433-6743.

Kathy Moran, Consumer Education

Monday, January 31, 2011

An interview with District 150 write-in candidate Rick Cloyd

Last week brought news of a write in campaign for the Third district - District 150 School Board seat (Stowell vacancy). As you may know, the filing date for the vacant seat came and went without a single person submitting a petition or statement of candidacy. Rick Cloyd, a lifelong resident of Peoria, community volunteer, and employee of Caterpillar, Inc, announced last week that he will attempt to win the seat through a write-in campaign. Seemingly well qualified, I couldn't resist calling him and asking him to share with our on-line community a little bit more about himself. He politely obliged. Below are my questions to him and his replies, without commentary.

1. Please tell us a little about yourself, your family (if you wish), and any past associations you have had with Peoria Public Schools.

I was born and raised in Peoria and graduated from Hines Grade School and Richwoods High School. I graduated with a degree in Journalism, with honors, from Bradley University and earned an MBA with emphasis in finance from the University of Illinois Executive program in 1996. I worked for Keystone Steel & Wire in Bartonville for 25 years, and was vice president of sales and marketing from 1997 until 2001, when I joined Caterpillar.

Sally and I have been married 29 years. She is an independent writer and producer with a U of I degree was in Speech Education. Over the past three years, we’ve volunteered with Carl Cannon’s ELITE Youth Outreach program for Peoria-area high school sophomores and juniors. I’ve helped with some program content, taught at the spring retreat, and worked at lock-ins.

If we had not been involved with ELITE, I would not be running for this office. I’ve seen first hand what great things happen when young people receive support and guidance and learn that respect is a two-way street. They get to experience the life-changing benefits of courteous language, respectful conduct and appropriate appearance.

I’ve served the community in a number of capacities, including the Greater Peoria YMCA board, a volunteer with our church and several other civic and charitable organizations. Recently, I taught a Junior Achievement economics course at Richwoods, did some home repairs for Rebuilding Together, and photographed South Side Mission Adopt-a-Block families for their Christmas cards.

My daughter and her husband are University of Georgia graduates. She is in banking and they also own a small business in Athens, GA.

2. Can you tell us what may make you uniquely qualified to serve on the District 150 Board of Education.

My unique qualification for the Board is my lifelong Peoria residence and four decades of business experience in finance, marketing, strategy development, and in the leadership and development of people. I have developed and managed large operating budgets and executed cost reduction programs, when necessary.

I’ve managed two national sales and marketing organizations, an 850,000 sq. ft manufacturing facility, and two product distribution facilities. Along the way I’ve built and maintained constructive working relationships with union and non-union hourly workforces -- sometimes in difficult financial circumstances.

My current responsibilities in Strategy & Business Development at Caterpillar include enterprise strategy consulting and execution support; analysis of industries, markets and competitors; and our department’s career development and mentoring process. International travel, particularly to China and India, has provided stark evidence of how critically important it is to prepare students for success in a hyper-competitive world.

3. What would be your three highest priorities during your tenure on the School board, if elected?

Financial accountability -- Dist. 150 is a large business, spending more than $1 million per school day, based on dividing the total budget of $187 million by the 176 days required in the school year. Taxpayers and business leaders need to see a better return on that substantial annual investment.

Strategic focus – The Board and Administration must have long-term goals for student academic achievement and a financial, operating and personnel plan to achieve them. The Board’s role is to establish policies, work with the Administration to set goals and metrics and to hold it accountable for measurable progress toward those goals.

A safe and respectful educational environment – No learning takes place when students fear for their safety, are distracted by disruptive behavior, or aren’t engaged with the teacher or educational material.

4. What is your opinion of the Charter School, and what words of advice would you have for families that did or do not win the "lottery" for enrollment in the Charter School?

I supported establishment of the Quest Charter Academy, and we’ll all learn a lot as it develops.

5. Can you name 3 people that you admire, have inspired you and/or have served as role models?

The late Dr. Paul Snider, who headed Bradley’s Journalism department. He was a great educator with an unforgettable way of holding his students to the highest standards of accuracy and excellence.

Carl Cannon, for his passion and dedication to youth, and for creating job opportunities and building self-respect in those students willing to step up and be ELITE.

Blanche Peeler, my great aunt, who took my mom into her home as a teenager during the Depression. Dr. and Mrs. Peeler provide for mom’s college education and then for her nursing degree at Vanderbilt University.

6. In your press release announcing your write-in candidacy you stated "District 150 can, and must, provide a safe and respectful environment of educational excellence to help students realize that potential". Other candidates before you have made similar statements and many district observers feel that little if any progress has been made in that regard. What specific measures would you advocate for in order to be one of the first to deliver on this campaign promise?

That’s what the District should aspire to. My promise is to apply my education, business experience and passion for educational excellence to the best of my abilities as a member of the Board.

As a governance body working together, the Board should hold the Dist. 150 Administration accountable on the issues of safety and security based upon appropriate metrics, policies and statutes.

If the ELITE program can create and sustain a safe and respectful environment for several hundred District 150 students every year, why can’t the rest of our students have that too?

7. What are your concerns, if any, about running and/or serving on the school board and what would be your expectations of the families of District 150.

My concern is that many people in the community have given up on Dist. 150 and see no hope for change or improvement – and every stakeholder will suffer the consequences. My hope and expectation is that families in our community will provide a supportive home environment for learning, and make their children’s education a top priority.

8. If there is anything you would like to add please feel free to do so here.

To help accomplish anything we discussed, I need, and would greatly appreciate, your School Board District 3 readers’ write-in votes on April 5 for Rick Cloyd.

Thank you for your participation.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Live "Build the Block" Cam up and running!

The Regional Museum has had it's fair share of growing pains over the past few weeks, but regardless, it is kind of exciting to see this live cam monitoring it's progress.

The Live Cam link is here.

Thanks to my friend Don at IT360 for the "heads-up" on the link, and if you are ever having computer problems, Don and Matt are the guys to see. Tell them Diane sent you. They'll laugh their heads off. We have a lot of fun!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hello? It's Julie McArdle calling... she'd like her reputation back.

"It has been almost a year to this date, April 21, that I got the call from Tom Broderick", said former Lindbergh Middle School Principal Julie McArdle today after learning that her nemesis, Mary Davis, the source of personnel reports that resulted in the termination of her contract last April, had finally been charged with multiple felony counts. "I am so happy she has finally been charged", said Julie. "This whole experience has been a nightmare. Now everyone will know I wasn't dreaming this stuff up".

Julie shouldn't have worried about that. Her many many friends, family and co-workers never had a doubt.