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Dist. U-46 Board to vote on various proposals

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 will vote on over $350,000 in resources for high school social studies electives, as well as $2.4 million in expenditures under contract and bid proposals, at its upcoming meeting on Monday, April 25.
  The high school social studies electives curriculum and resource adoption was presented to the board on Monday, April 11.
  The resources being considered are for six course programs including Intro to Psych (Thinking About Psychology; $88,779), Sociology (Pearson’s Sociology: A Down-To-Earth Approach; $102,099), Intro to Law/Law II (Street Law, 9th ed.; $64,587), International Relations (Current Issues Series, Brown University; $9,895), World History (Pearson’s World History; $70,496) and World Geography (McGraw-Hill’s Geography: The Human and Physical World; $17,255).
  Larry Pahl, a Bartlett High School social studies teacher, said the current world history textbooks “are so battered and beaten up.”
  “I just got my 15-year pin from you guys, and it’s been the same book since I got here,” Pahl said. “And I think it was old then.”
  Robin Lenart, coordinator of K-12 social studies, said the rationale for the change range from the age and condition of current textbooks to following newly adopted Illinois Social Science Standards and Standards Based Learning.
  The process of designing the curriculum and choosing resources started back in 2012 according to Lenart.
  “We believe social studies is a crucial component of K through 12 education,” Lenart said. “Social studies focuses on preparing students to be informed, knowledgeable, active citizens throughout their lives.”
  If adopted, implementation would begin for the 2016-17 school year which would include two professional development days over the summer, one optional and the other mandatory.
  Board member Sue Kerr asked if textbooks could be phased out in the future if U-46 gets to one-to-one technology, which officials said that could occur. She later asked about the reason for the resource chosen for International Relations, which is PDF’s from Brown University, to which Lenart said “that was (teachers) preferred mode because it does give them the flexibility” to design lesson plans around current events.
  Board member Traci Ellis asked Pahl about the governor’s taskforce he previously served on.
  “We made the recommendation after my one year on the taskforce that a law be passed that required civics be taught to all students,” said Pahl who added the bill passed and was signed into law.
  U-46 had already required civics education, but Pahl noted that Chicago Public Schools previously did not. He may have gone a little too off script for the administration’s liking.
  “Chicago, it’s been shown to be empirically the most corrupt city in the nation. You can be screwed by the government and not know why,” said Pahl, which prompted Suzanne Johnson, assistant superintendent, to pull his microphone away albeit jokingly as the crowd enjoyed the remarks.
  “I loved your commentary,” board member Jeanette Ward said.
  Some of the resources being considered have seen some criticism for a lack of accuracy, most notably Pearson’s World History textbook which received an unacceptable grade from the Truth in Texas Textbook (TTT) review which found several instances of bias, omissions of facts, half-truths and factual errors. Pearson did make some changes that were deemed acceptable by the TTT, but many others were still deemed unacceptable.
  That review can be found at truthintexastextbooks.com under the textbook review page.
  Also presented that evening were one contract proposal and five bid proposals, all to be paid for out of the education fund, except one.
  The contract was a renewal with Ombudsman at a cost of $228,903. Ombudsman is an alternative program for students with attendance or behavior issues as well as expelled students, and U-46 is seeking to purchase 41 slots.
  “That’s an incremental cost of nearly $5,600 for the education of these 41 individuals?” board member Phil Costello asked which Terri Lozier, assistant superintendent, said that was correct.
  Ward asked if there was any competition or if Ombudsman was “the only game in town,” which Lozier said “this is really the only game in town.”
  Under bids was a $953,500 proposal with Heartland Business Services, a $132,600 proposal Lenovo (United States) Inc. and a $173,849 proposal with Storcom, Inc. which all are to purchase “equipment to create a redundant data center at Kenyon Woods (Middle School)” according to Jeff King, chief Operations officer. The purchases would include firewall upgrades, servers and a storage area network.
  “As it stands right now, we have no redundancy so when we have a major failure we’re typically down several days,” King said.
  Board member Cody Holt asked if data centers “are site exclusive or are they district wide” which King answered, “the main infrastructure with the student system is run through” the central office. Holt asked if there have been any cyber attacks in the past to which King said there have.
  A bid by Paragon Development Systems, Inc. for $68,441 is to provide wireless access points at five U-46 schools. The district hopes to receive 80 percent of the cost through an E-rate reimbursement, a federal program.
  Ward asked about the likelihood of receiving the E-rate rebate which Richard Ramos, who works in the district’s Plant Operations department, said “there’s a good possibility.” Category one applications receive the E-rate funds first, and Ramos said this proposal would be a category two.
  The final bid proposal was for $275,234 a year for three years, to be paid for out of the operations and maintenance fund, split between TNT Landscape ($112,564) and KCG Management ($162,670). The subcontractors would provide mowing and light landscaping for four designated regions, two regions for each subcontractor.



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