Kathy Knecht

PUSD Board Member Kathy Knecht is a tireless advocate for the district’s proposed budget override and appears in this Aug. 7 Facebook photo with her husband, Tom, passing out fliers to parents.

The budget override for Peoria Unified School District, slated for the Nov. 3 election, was on the minds of governing board members at their meeting last week.

Mary Schuett from the Peoria Classroom Teachers Association, Barbara Barcus from the Peoria Education Association and Paul Bower from the Peoria Principals’ Association were recognized at the start of the Aug. 13 meeting.

“Good evening, President Bullock and board members and Dr. Santarelli and everyone. We are excited to be back for a new school year and looking forward to working with the board on the bond and override,” said Schuett.

“Dr. Santarelli, board members, it is a pleasure to be the president again of the Peoria Education Association and to work hand-in-hand and especially as we have the override coming up where we’ll be looking forward to making our voice get heard in the community,” said Barcus.

“It’s a privilege to serve with you the wonderful children and families of our district, so we stand ready and willing to work with you,” said Bower.

Board members responded with gratitude and optimism.

“I’d just like to thank you all in advance for all your cooperation and hard work this year. I think this is going to be a great year and I look forward to working with you,” David Jonagan said.

Proponents of the override have until Oct. 5 to register voters. They can also help residents of the district obtain ballots in advance, visit an early voting location, or figure out where to go on Election Day.

“I would like to say we’ve got a full year ahead of us and we’re all going to need to work together to pull this thing off and make sure our kids get what they need this year,” Judy Doane said.

PUSD is asking voters to increase the override from 10 to 13 percent. An all-or-nothing question will appear on the ballot, asking residents whether they want to approve the boost or phase out the override.

Matt Bullock, president of the governing board, discussed ideal and actual class sizes in the district with those individuals and how difficult it can be to manage a classroom with too many students.

“It’s very critical, you talk about the override, getting the data and the statistics and facts out to explain our situation,” he said.

Board member Kathy Knecht signaled her willingness to help those groups rally supporters for the override.

“I would just say that the email is always going and the phone is always working and I look forward to hearing from you and working with all of you,” she said.

Last fall, the Peoria Education Association held a phone bank at Knecht’s home to get out the vote for her reelection. Barcus and her association provided scripts, pizza and drinks, according to its Oct. 8, 2014, Facebook post.

Six days before the Aug. 13 board meeting, Knecht announced on her Facebook page that the override campaign had begun.

“Vote4PUSDKids has launched their campaign to pass the 13 percent override in November that will preserve valued programming, help recruit and retain quality teachers and re-establish free all-day K for all parents who want it for their kids,” she wrote.

The Vote4PUSD Kids Facebook page had 439 likes at the start of this week.

The website for that political committee now accepts donations. Volunteers can register through the site. They can sign up to knock on doors, make phone calls, attend events, put up signs or help out at a golf tournament next month.

Knecht wrote that she and her family were “passing out fliers outside of two elementary schools last evening.” She sounded a bit dismayed by the response she received.

“You should know that many parents, with their school kids in tow, had no idea that an override election was looming or what was at stake. Some knew, but didn’t care (!), and several said they didn’t vote, or weren’t registered (!),” she wrote.

She concluded her Aug. 7 note with a call to action.

“That’s where you come in. For the override to pass, we must get every supporter to vote! I assure you, every opponent will. They are very well organized and they always do!” she wrote in a post that was shared more than 100 times.