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District 150 drafts plan to better monitor spending, travel

The Peoria Public School board is drafting a policy that would change how purchases and employee travel are approved. The move comes as some board members express concern over recent trips to out-of-state conferences.

The policy would require varying levels of consent for purchases, depending on the size of the expenditure being written off. Board member Rick Cloyd calls the draft “a cleanup” of how the district’s purchases are currently reviewed and carried out.

“When we’re under the circumstances of trying to manage a very difficult financial situation and a deficit that is large and unacceptable, the board has to crank down,” Cloyd said.

Cloyd says the proposed rules are a response to a recent purchase of software that cost the district nearly a quarter of a million dollars. That purchase didn’t require board approval.

The proposed draft requires all purchases of $25,000 or more to be approved by the board of education. Purchases less than that amount are required to be approved by multiple officials in the District's hierarchy, depending on the size of the expenditure. 

The proposed policy would also require board approval on travel out-of-state or exceeding one thousand dollars.

During the meeting, the board approved upcoming conference travel for several board members and administration, on a four to two vote. Board members Linda Butler and Debbie Wolfmeyer opposed the decision.

“Very simply with the financial crisis we’re having and the deficit we’re facing, I’ve been very vocal in asking to have the education fund travel pared back as much as we can,” Wolfmeyer said. 

The district has been met with criticism over a recent conference to Florida that cost nearly $300,00. 

The board also voted Monday night to renew several contracts for the upcoming school year, including the disciplinary program known as ELITE. The $270,000 agreement puts staff to work at Lincoln Elementary School.

Superintendent Sharon  Desmoulin-Kherat says the district selected Lincoln because it showed the most need for the program. The disciplinary program previously worked at Trewyn and Harrison schools but budget constraints eliminated the program down to one school.Under the agreement, Cannon is able to raise money to extend the program back to Harrison.