March 15 to July 1 “Purgatory”
It is time for Peoria Public Schools to seriously look at how it elects board members. District 150 is an anomaly in the world of school board elections. While the rest of school districts in Illinois (with the exception of the Chicago board that is appointed by the mayor) have elections every two years for four-year terms, Peoria has five-year terms and an election every year. This has its origins in the fact that Peoria is a Special Charter District and is further complicated by a civil rights lawsuit filed in the late 1980s.
While this doesn’t make it easy to change, it is not at all impossible to make changes. The worst part of the existing system is the “purgatory” an elected board member endures. A school board member elected in any other Illinois district takes his or her seat as a full member at the next board meeting after the election. Not so in Peoria. The last Peoria election was held on March 15. I was one of two elected board members who will not be able to vote on district issues until July 1. This incredible time lag has no place in modern day elections. There is no good reason to continue this outdated practice but there will not be a discussion to change this until July 1.
Daniel Walther, Peoria
District 3 School Board Member