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U-46 Board to vote on expenses of $11 million

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 will be voting on $11 million in expenditure items at its upcoming meeting on Monday, June 4. The items were presented on May 21.
  The largest expenditures came from transportation items as well as an employee benefits item.
  With Petroleum Traders, the district proposed a $4.5 million item to be paid for by the transportation fund if approved for a three-year contract to purchase fuel for district vehicles. The district would pay $2.4917 per gallon for diesel fuel and $2.1123 per gallon for gasoline.
  Board member Jeanette Ward asked “the advantage here is that we lock in the price per gallon until 20-21, is that correct?” Bruce Phelps, senior business official of business services, said that was correct.
  Ward noted that the price per gallon was “significantly lower than what I pay at the pump right now.” Phelps said “economy of scales because of the amount of gallons we’re buying a year,” and Jeffrey Prowell, director of transportation, added the district pays “no tax on the fuel.”
  The district is also proposing a $2.6 million expenditure with Midwest Transit Equipment, Inc. (transportation fund) to replace 32 buses. Also from the transportation fund is a proposal with Safety Vision to purchase 130 cameras, Phelps saying “all high definition cameras,” to be placed in buses at a cost of $200,734.
  Also being proposed is a three-year contract renewal with United Healthcare at an estimated cost of $2.1 million a year to administer the district’s health care benefits program. There is also an option for two additional years and the item, if approved, would be paid for through the education, operations and maintenance and transportation funds.
  The proposal states United Healthcare provides “medical and dental claims administration, access to the United Healthcare Choice Plus provider network and corresponding discounts, individual stop-loss coverage, administration of medical savings accounts, and billing services for retiree and COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) continuation insurance administration.”
  There were four other bidders that came in $1.4 million to $23.3 million a year more than United Healthcare according to the proposal.
  Noting the huge disparity, board member Phil Costello asked about the accuracy of those numbers. Beth Berg, coordinator of employee benefits, said: “There were four other respondents, and what really impacts that difference is the discount percentage that they offer for their services, the providers that they use in their network. The discount percentages can really vary widely.”
  Costello, a public administrator for a park district, said “typically in my experience, actually they lowball it to get you in there… to get that first year under their belts and then it’s hard to change.”
  “I’m kind of surprised that it would be so much out of line,” Costello said and he asked if the other bidders knew “what the loss exposure is?” Berg said: “They know what our claims are.”
  Also to be voted on is a $628,919 expenditure (education fund) with Office Depot to purchase 5,770 chairs and 5,650 desks for secondary schools.
  Board member Sue Kerr asked about the life expectancy of the items to which Phelps said “it can vary widely,” and the desks and chairs under consideration are made from “a more long lasting kind of plastic.”
  Ward asked what happens with the desks and chairs that are being replaced and Phelps said they are evaluated and either redistributed to elementary schools or are scrapped if they are unserviceable.
  With Dell Marketing LP, the district is asking for a $503,795 expenditure (education fund) to purchase 1,548 Chromebooks as well as 42 Chromebook carts. Dell was not the lowest bid as both Office Depot ($448,565) and PCM ($439,917) came in lower.
  The proposal states: “Equipment was selected based on testing results and not on lowest price. The devices bid by Office Depot and PCM did not meet the specifications requested by the District for durability and functionality.”
  A $194,359 expenditure (operations and maintenance fund) would go to replacing a bucket lift truck from Elliott Equipment Company.
  With Golden Apple, the district is asking to spend $166,500 for professional development. The cost would be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers if approved through Title I funds.
  According to the proposal, the professional development would be “for classroom teachers, teacher leaders, coaches, administrators and other academic support staff. Developing knowledge and skills around inquiry-based science will support curriculum and assessment implementation.”
  Kerr asked if the professional development was open to all teachers, but Trisha Shrode, director of curriculum and instruction, said it was only open to staff at Title I schools.
  Also proposed was a $40,000 expenditure (education fund) for membership renewal with the Illinois Association of School Boards.
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders did pull a playground project proposal from Wayne Elementary School from the agenda. He said it will come back to the board but the “language was unclear by the principal, so we want to make sure we’re all on the same page.”
  The board will also vote on a resolution regarding the timeline for approval of the Fiscal Year 2019 Northern Kane County Regional Vocational System Budget. The budget will be presented on June 18, a public hearing will be held July 23 and a vote on final adoption will take place on Aug. 6.




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