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U-46 Board approves union pact, expense items

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 unanimously approved a union contract as well as $1.2 million in expenditures at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 19 which was virtual due to COVID-19 regulations.
  The four-year union contract was with the Educational Support Services Organization. The board held no public discussion.
  Jeff King, deputy superintendent of operations, responded to an inquiry from The Examiner seeking details and said it includes “a lump sum paid in the first year which ranges from $750-$1,250 depending on the employees grade level,” a 3 percent raise in the second year and 2.75 percent the third and fourth years.
  Language changes included vacancies, sick leave, job descriptions, vacation limitations and snow removal,” King added.
  Three “emergency” items were presented and approved that same evening, all to be paid for through the education fund.
  Included was $532,232 with School Specialty for elementary supplies for 10,740 students which include items like scissors and crayons.
  Board member Melissa Owens asked which students will receive the supply kits and Jaimie Giraldo, fine arts coordinator, said “at this time, this provides kits for all of our students who receive free or reduced lunch only” with kits including “traditional school supply items that are on a lot of the elementary schools’ school supply list.”
  Board member Kate Thommes said her family personally “got our money’s worth” of taxpayer funded supply handouts. She said: “My family, we got one of the secondary art distance learning supply kits and it was really nice. We were really pleased with what we got, and there was a good supply of stuff.”
  With MusicFirst, the district will spend $339,101 for online learning applications and USB microphones for 4,750 secondary music students. The district will spend $183,728 also with School Specialty for secondary art supplies like sketchbooks, pens, pencils and pencil sharpeners for 4,903 students.
  Also approved was $169,500 to hire Virtuoso Education Consulting, LLC for nine months to do data analysis and hold monthly meetings regarding disproportionality data. The board additionally unanimously approved of $7.7 million in itemized bills.

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