© 2024 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Peoria Public Schools plans cuts to Wraparound Center, other programming after reduction in R3 grant funding

Mike Rundle

Peoria Public Schools says it can no longer afford some services helping students and families outside the classroom after a cut in state grant funding.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, District 150 Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said the R3, or Restore, Reinvest, and Renew, grant is providing 75 percent less funding than in previous years. That's the state program allocating a portion of legalized cannabis tax revenues to violence prevention and economic development efforts in underserved areas.

Dr. Susan Grzanich, the district’s innovation and grants officer, said the new total was about $408,000 to be spent across the region, not just for District 150. She said the original amount was closer to $890,000.

As a result, the district made steep cuts to some programs and services for families outside of school. Those cuts include legal services at the Wraparound Center, programs with the Hult Center for Family Services and Family Core, and the district’s student working program.

“We’re getting significantly less dollars, and so the district has to pick up a huge chunk that the grant will not be picking up, and that’s, for example, in the justice advocates,” Dr. Kherat said.

When reviewing the new amount in the grant with other board members, Kherat said her team tried to look for other means of getting funding through the grant.

“The money is like almost nothing,” Kherat said. “We were thinking maybe another organization can apply, but you can’t even collaborate because [the system] throws you out. Most of the money will be going to Chicago.”

The discussion came about after attorney Yolanda Riley publicly asked about the future of legal services at the Wraparound Center, where she provided legal services.

Board member Paris McConnell said the need for legal services in underrepresented communities are a domino for other things that are a side effect of poverty.

“I think it’s critical for us to keep that at the table,” McConnell said. “I understand programming, but I think the district has provided and has equity in the programming… Even if we get a smaller pie, I think we need to reimagine how we share the distribution of it.”

Board President Mike Murphy said he wants the board to come together and look closer at where district money is currently going. He thinks they may be able to redirect some funds back to the Wraparound Center.

Mike Smith is an correspondent with WCBU in Peoria. He joined the station in 2023.