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U-46 approves pacts, further staff dismissals


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 unanimously approved over $2.4 million in expenditures as well as the honorary dismissal of 58 employees all by 5-0 votes at a special meeting on Monday, March 14.
  At its previous meeting, the board approved the dismissal of 353 district employees by 7-0 votes and an additional 21 first-, second- and third-year probationary teachers as well as 37 tenured teachers were approved for dismissal on March 14, these dismissals being “customary” according to the district’s head of Human Resources Melanie Meidel. Board members Phil Costello and Donna Smith were absent at the March 14 meeting.
  The board approved a $1,128,000 expenditure with Mechanical Concepts of Illinois Inc., coming out of the capital projects fund, to replace aging unit ventilators and piping at Streamwood High School. U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said the expenditure “is in the budget,” and the winning bid was the lowest of six bids.
  Rickey Sparks, director of Business Services, said the district chose the “lowest responsible bid” which led board member Jeanette Ward to ask for a clarification on how a responsible bid is determined.
  “Does it mean that there could be some [lower] bids that we just don’t believe they can do the work,” Ward asked.
  Sparks said: “That’s part of it, and part of it is they followed all of our procedure in submitting a bid and paperwork.”
  Also approved was a two-year renewal of a contract with Grant Thornton, costing $625,000 in 2016 and $637,400 in 2017, for health care consulting services. The expenditures will be paid for out of the education, operations and maintenance and transportation funds.
  According to the proposal, health benefits cost the district about $50 million annually, and Grant Thornton has saved the district over $24 million over the last 10 years.
  The board also approved a $43,650 contract with Hanover Research, to be paid out of the education fund, to do studies and program audits. Sanders said it is an “annual subscription” and the planned audits will be for the high school academies, strategic plan metrics and program evaluations.
  “This group actually came in as one of the lowest of the bids (for the academy audit) and actually does more work than what we ask them to do,” Sanders said.
  Board member Sue Kerr asked for an explanation on what the audit will look like.
  Laura Hill, director of Assessment and Accountability, said Hanover Research has around 150 researchers.
  “You’re having people actually looking at that national database of research and spending the time and effort there and [looking at] what other school districts across the country have actually researched in the past,” Hill said.
  Ward said “this is a cost effective way to do audits” based on a response from Sanders to an emailed question which she read: “Each audit costs anywhere between $18,000 to $70,000 depending on what we as a district are asking the auditors to do, and Hanover will perform up to three major audits for about $48,000 a year.”
  Sanders said the $43,650 amount is a prorated rate as the district did not begin using the service at the start of the year.

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