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Here's the price tag for the renamings of several Peoria schools

Family and friends of Annie Jo Gordon pose for a picture in front of new school signage.
Collin Schopp
Family and friends of Annie Jo Gordon pose for a picture in front of new school signage.

Since 2018, the Peoria Public Schools board of education has renamed seven of the district's 29 school buildings. But those new monikers didn't come without a significant price tag.

That's according to invoices obtained by WCBU through a Freedom of Information Act request. A tally of the total expenses incurred came out to $78,310.59 - and the true amount is likely higher.

The largest expenditures include new signage for five of the schools. Items like new staff and student t-shirts, stamps, flags, tablecloths, and stage curtains are also listed in an accounting of name change related expenses by the district.

An accounting of expenses appears to be incomplete for the first two schools the district renamed, in 2018 and 2021, respectively.

Dr. Maude A. Sanders Primary was the first school renamed. The district's sole expenditure cited in the request is $516 for new t-shirts. For Dr. C.T. Vivian Primary, the only expense listed in documents provided through FOIA is $94.55 for new umbrellas.

For comparison, the next lowest expenditure for school renaming was the $10,712 spent to redub the former Charles A. Lindbergh Middle School on Sheridan Road as Liberty Leadership Middle School.

Peoria Public Schools administrative assistant Julia Shaff said the district supplied the records they were able to locate. Additional records will be provided as a supplement to the response, she said.

The school renaming campaign began when school board members pointed out some of the historical figures district schools in the predominantly Black district were named for had links to slavery or racism. Those included presidents like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Woodrow Wilson.

Several schools were renamed after prominent Black citizens, including the civil rights leader Dr. C.T. Vivian, Dr. Maude A. Sanders, Peoria's first Black female doctor, and Annie Jo Gordon, a longtime leader at the Tri-County Urban League and the mother of state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria).

Other schools adopted more generic names, such as Washington Gifted's new moniker of Reservoir Gifted.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.