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District U-46 to vote on donation, PE proposals


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 will vote on a pair of proposals at it’s upcoming meeting on Monday, Jan. 13.
  The proposals were presented at the Dec. 16, 2019 meeting.
  The first is giving $51,000 to the Alignment Collaborative for Education (ACE)
  ACE was founded in 2013 under former Superintendent Jose Torres and is comprised of government and business entities within U-46. The original intent was that the organization would be solely funded by private fundraising, but U-46 taxpayers are now the largest annual funder for ACE.
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said in 2016 that ACE “is all paid for through fundraising” but U-46 provided a “portion to kick it off.” In 2017, ACE asked for $25,000 a year for three years but the U-46 board opted for one year citing a lack of transparency from the group, but a year later the board provided $51,000 to ACE.
  In September, an ACE presentation was given stating their planned operating budget for 2019-2020 was $204,075 in expenses with 70 percent going to salary expenses for two full-time employees, the primary recipient being Nancy Coleman who is ACE’s executive director.
  The full-time employees work with “A-Teams and over 150 business and community partners that last year contributed 74 [percent] of Alignment’s Operating Budget along with contributing 3,233 volunteer hours to U-46 students,” the proposal states.
  Last year, ACE received $196,000 along with $17,500 in restricted grant funds with U-46’s funds representing 26 percent of that while other taxing bodies Elgin and Hanover Park made up 12 percent and public colleges and universities 3 percent. Grand Victoria Casino is the largest private funder at $40,000.
  ACE has raised $123,000 so far for the 2019-2020 budget.
  Sue Kerr, the board’s president, asked what ACE’s goals are for this year.
  “The work of alignment is shifting as educational pathways takes hold in the district,” said Peter Sikorski, ACE’s chairman. “The work that we’re doing within the business community to get external partners is very important because we need these external folks to know what’s going on in the district and also how they can be plugged in and be part of that in an organized fashion.”
  Sikorski said the groups work on early education and trauma informed care will be “maintenance” work this year and attempting to expand business involvement.
  Coleman said ACE hopes to expand events such as career panels and job shadowing as well as internship opportunities.
  Board member Melissa Owens asked how many internships were provided to U-46 students last summer to which Coleman said 25 and “we do see that program significantly growing.”
  The second item is a physical education (PE) curriculum proposal costing $58,932.
  Tracey Jakaitis, student wellness coordinator, said “this is just a continuation of the next year’s rollup” of high school courses that were approved last year. The plan is to add two new modules to functional fitness, strength and performance, walking for wellness and team sports officiating and coaching courses.
  The PE curriculum team has been working on developing standards-based curriculum district-wide, designing assessments and rubrics aligned to state and national standards and providing common opportunities and assessments for students district-wide according to the presentation.
  A recent high school blood drive showed that 75 percent of male students and 25 percent of females were pre-hypertension, or high blood pressure, according to Jakaitis who said that “that was a real big moment for us” and showed the need for students to actively participate in PE.
  Jakaitis said choice is important for students. She said: “When students have choice in the physical activity… we found that we’re just better meeting students’ needs and that they will have more success.”
  The focus is on moving away from a team-sport emphasis, promoting physically active lifestyles that will continue through adulthood and offering courses that appeal to a students abilities and interests the presentation stated. The planned outcomes are critical thinking, physical literacy and career exploration.
  The cost includes $57,772 for resources and equipment as well as $1,160 for professional development.
  Hallie Furtak, the student advisor to the board, said students like the options.
  “As a student, it is so much better,” Furtak said. “I can tell in class that people are participating a lot more.”

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