The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 approves expenses despite some dissent
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved $2.1 million in expenditures, but a few items received dissent from board member Jeanette Ward on Monday, April 11.
Under contracts there were five proposals, all to be paid by the nation’s taxpayers through an IDEA grant, to purchase materials to be used primarily for students deemed needing interventions and were presented by Susan Smith, coordinator of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS).
Board member Cody Holt, who missed the March 21 meeting, asked if the materials will replace the MTSS coaches that were eliminated before the start of this school year.
Smith said these were materials already being used in the district, and “our coaches may have trained these intervention programs in the past. Now we would either being using vendors or teachers within our district that are utilizing them to train.”
For Ward, she voted for two of the proposals, present on another and against two. She had asked for links to examples and descriptions of the materials at the March 21 meeting but did not receive them until the day of the vote.
After her own research, Ward said she could support the $31,520 contract with Heinemann Publishing for Leveled Literacy Intervention materials as well as the $32,890 contract with Pacific Learning for Hopscotch: Sistema de la Intervencion materials for Spanish-speaking students.
Ward did say “as a principle I don’t support prolonging a dependence on any other language but English” because it can harm the future success of those students in America where English is the dominant language, but because Hopscotch was for students needing intervention she could support it.
On the $33,600 contract with Houghton Mifflin Publishing for Earobics, Ward said “I don’t have enough information now to make a determination” and voted present.
Board member Sue Kerr asked about Earobics: “We’re getting this for additional schools because it has been successful?”
Smith said that “we don’t have solid data collected on the intervention itself” but there’s “a lot of anecdotal information” supporting it.
Ward opposed a $36,708 contract with the Committee for Children for Second Step materials as well as a $41,979 for the instructional intervention program from Touch Math.
Ward said that the Committee for Children “is associated with many politically charged groups that many parents might find offensive,” and The Examiner reported last September that group promotes a group-think mentality in its anti-bullying program and it teaches elementary-aged students about sexuality.
“Regarding the Second Step Program, I will be voting against it because it is not the job of the school system to ‘meet the social and emotional needs’ of students,” Ward said. “The school system cannot replace parents. Focus in this area results in less time available for academics.”
Ward said her daughters’ classrooms spend an hour every week “that could be spent on academics,” and her daughters’ classmates are frustrated and feel it’s “a waste of time.”
Board member Veronica Noland disagreed: “Attending to the social and emotional needs of children is absolutely necessary, especially for the children that suffer a variety of situations and events in their childhood and they will not be successful if we do not meet those social and emotional needs.”
For Touch Math, Ward said her research found pages of teacher discussion groups online “who were vehement in their opposition” to this method. Instead of teaching mathematical facts, Touch Math teaches students by touching points on a number.
Kerr said she home-schooled her children and tutored others and gave anecdotal support of Touch Math.
“One thing that I’ve learned is that children learn differently,” Kerr said. “Some of them need different programs.”
Although this vote was for additional Touch Math material, not removing those already used in the district, Kerr said: “I think it would be a shame to take this resource away from our children and our teachers.”
Board member Traci Ellis asked: “Our teachers have given positive feedback?”
Smith said she didn’t have district-wide information but previously as principal at Nature Ridge Elementary School they “found great success with it.”
“U-46’s, our teachers, experiences and your former experience as a principal with Touch Math was that it is beneficial for how we’re using it in this district so I support it,” said Ellis despite Smith saying her only experience with it was at Nature Ridge.
Holt asked if there were other materials than Touch Math used for students needing intervention which Smith said this was to increase “how many schools have Touch Math as an option. They may not have students who need it, but we’re trying to build a baseline of intervention so that the student who does need that intervention has it. But there are other options.”
The board unanimously approved a $1.1 million bid with Schroeder Asphalt Services for maintenance work on the west parking lot and sidewalks at Streamwood High School, a $730,887 bid with Peak Electric, Inc. “to provide wireless access points and switching upgrades” at 10 U-46 elementary schools under phase four of a plan to do such work at all district schools, and a $79,190 contract with Raptor Tech to manage visitors to district schools.
Also approved unanimously was $8.7 million in itemized bills as well as 250 more honorary dismissal letters. Melanie Meidel, who heads U-46’s Human Resources department, said it included 10 positions being eliminated, 102 part-time testing proctors, 137 grant-funded employees and one change of status for an administrator.