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Various items approved at U-46 board meeting

By Seth Hancock
  Two items totaling $5.6 million were presented and approved at the same Dec. 16, 2019 meeting under discussion/action with 7-0 votes by the Board of Education in School District U-46.
  Included was a $3.6 million bid, to be paid through the operations and maintenance fund, with Mechanical Concepts of Illinois, Inc. for chiller replacement projects at Elgin and South Elgin high schools. The current chiller at Elgin was installed in 1998 and in 2004 at South Elgin according to the proposal.
  “The absorbers, which are critical components of those chillers, are currently close to the end of their projected useful life, which is estimated to extend between 20-25 years,” the proposal states. “These chillers are taxed by the local water quality and the consequent treatments needed to optimize their operation. As a result, both chillers require extensive maintenance to get them to operate properly.”
  The replacement work is expected to be complete by May 1 the proposal states. The district originally planned the projects to be done over the summer.
  Board member Melissa Owens asked if it was presented under discussion/action “to get this work started during winter break” to which Sheila Downs, director of plant operations, said “the units failed in the fall” and the quick approval will give them a chance to “use valuable time over winter break in order to do some of the work that will be invasive.”
  Also approved was a new three-year electrical power supply contract with Direct Energy, U-46’s current provider, costing 4.63 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for an estimated $1.9 million to be paid through the operations and maintenance fund.
  The current contract will expire next month and the district used Belden Energy Solutions as a consultant to secure the contract.
  “Because electric prices, capacity costs, and transmission charges change daily, administration is requesting approval to lock in proposed pricing,” the proposal states. “Thus, we are presenting this proposal as a Discussion/Action item in order to secure the current rates.”
  The contract represents a 23 percent reduction from the current 6.052 cents per kWh which amounts to about $445,000 annually the proposal claims.
  Board member John Devereux said it was “good to see… it indicates a 23 percent reduction from our current cost.” He added: “Well done, I guess, on getting that done.”
  “I don’t control the market, but I’ll take it,” Downs responded.
  The board also approved by 7-0 votes $16.1 million in itemized bills, a settlement agreement and general release in the Kulasik v. School District U-46, et. al. case and release of all claims in the same case. No information was provided on that lawsuit.
  Additionally, the board approved of $148,813 in expenditure items under the consent agenda by a 7-0 vote.
  The largest item was a two-year contract costing $73,750, paid through the education fund, with International Baccalaureate (IB) to provide professional development to Elgin High School staff as a redesign is being proposed for its gifted academy.
  According to the proposal, data from Elgin’s academy “shows that the admission process does not reflect a culturally competent educational environment” while IB works with schools to create programs that “encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”
  The board approved of a $44,000 bid, from the operations and maintenance fund, with Enger Vavra, Inc. to demolish a cooler and freezer at Bartlett’s Eastview Middle School.
  “Eastview Middle School was previously used as the Food Services Commissary for School District U-46. During the summer of 2018, the Food Service Department moved to their new location…. The old commissary has since been converted to an additional location for Business Services and acts as an auxiliary location for district storage. Because there are no future plans to use the built-in cooler and freezer, Business Services asked to remove these units to allow for more storage,” the proposal states.
  To be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through Title I funds, the board approved of a $31,063 contract with Group Travel Planners to send 48 students and five adults from Elgin’s Larkin High School on a spring break out-of-state college trip in March.
  Also approved under the consent agenda was a personnel report and workers’ compensation cases which included one new position, a paraeducator.





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