Palles Thompson: We will continue to put students first at Peoria Unified

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We now know that the Peoria Unified maintenance and operations override failed by just 133 votes. To lose by such a slim margin was heartbreaking. I am beyond grateful for the dedicated parent and community volunteers who worked tirelessly to share information related to the override over the past few months. Based on their efforts, we saw a 39 percent increase in voter turnout across our community for an off-cycle election. It is incredible to see so many engaged around an issue that so greatly impacts our students and staff. 

As parents, you’re likely wondering what this loss means for your student and our district. Since this is the fourth year in our current override, we have the opportunity for a second and final chance to go out to our community next year, and ask for their support before we start the painful process of reducing more than $27 million from our maintenance and operations budget. Our current voter-approved override makes it possible for us to provide free all-day kindergarten, arts education programs including band and chorus, assistant principals, athletic programs, extra and co-curricular activities, gifted education, nurses, physical education, reading programs, maintains class sizes and pays for a portion of our teacher and staff salaries. 

Yesterday, our leadership team had an opportunity to review these areas. Our conversations will soon produce a one- to three-year plan for the short- and long-term budget impact if a future override is not successful. We will continue to put students at the center of every decision. However, as you can see from the aforementioned list, all the areas funded by our override impact our kids and their educational experience. 

Our hope is that you will continue to stay engaged and celebrate all the good happening at your school.

Parents, the future of the Peoria Unified School District is bright. We have faced challenges far greater than this and have overcome thanks to the teachers, staff and leaders in this great district. As Simon Sinek said, “Leadership isn’t about the next election, it’s about the next generation.”

Rest-assured, Peoria Unified is committed to both. 

Editor’s note: Linda Palles Thompson is the Peoria Unified School District Superintendent.

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