The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 approves expenses, two fostering debate
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved $3.8 million in expenditures for 12 bid proposals, two of which came with some dissent on Monday, May 2.
The two bids that received no votes were on proposals pertaining to full day kindergarten (FDK), which will be offered district-wide in the 2016-17 school year, as both received 5-2 votes, Cody Holt and Jeanette Ward voting no. Holt and Ward were the only no votes in April when FDK district-wide was officially approved.
The first FDK bid was for furniture from Frank Cooney, Co. at a cost of $70,038, to be paid for out of the education fund. The second was for equipment from School Specialty for $404,400, also coming from the education fund.
“I’ve been in opposition to full day kindergarten so I will be voting no on this particular item,” Ward said before the first FDK vote.
“I still fundamentally object to expanding operations in this time of fiscal uncertainty, so I will to be voting no,” Holt said.
On the equipment proposal, Holt’s concerns went further as he questioned the transparency of the bid.
At the April 25 meeting, Holt asked for specifics on what was going to be purchased.
Peggy Ondera, director of Early Learner Initiatives, said: “The equipment is going to cover all of the materials that need to support children’s learning in the centers, in the classrooms. So it’s all of the supplies and materials, the books that support reading in the library center, the manipulative in the math center, those types of materials”
As Ondera was light on specifics, Holt asked for an elaboration which she replied as being items such as scissors and art supplies.
In between meetings, Holt requested a list of the supplies which included 250 separate items being bought in bulk.
On May 2, Holt asked: “I was wondering how this was exactly put together? How did we come to the determination that we needed to purchase in bulk each one of these items?”
Ondera said a committee “developed a list of what were required materials, and so that’s what we based that on. Then we developed a classroom inventory of current kindergarten classrooms, sent that out to kindergarten teachers and that’s how we determined what amounts we needed of each item.”
Ondera said that the committee used catalogues to find the items needed. Holt noted that going through the catalogue he found that several of the items had different options at varying prices.
Holt gave an example of the mobile metal art easel, which the catalogue showed one type of easel at $389 and another at $235.
“Are they going to give us the most cost effective” items, Holt asked.
Rickey Sparks, director of Business Services, said School Specialty “provided us with a cost” on the total list of items and their quantities, the implication being U-46 is unaware if it’ll receive the most cost-effective items or the higher priced items.
“When I look over some of these items, it’s just not transparent in my opinion,” Holt said. “For example, going back to the art easel again, there’s a $154 per unit difference, and to me I don’t see what exactly we’re purchasing and I have an issue with that.”
U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said the Holt did not request a cost of the items.
“I don’t recall you asking for the specific item cost for each of the items. You asked for the list of equipment being purchased under that total sum, so that’s what I asked them to go back and pull and compile.”
Holt responded: “Again, figuring out what exactly we’re purchasing that was part of my email. I don’t know exactly what we are purchasing and that’s why I’ll be voting no.”
The other 10 bids were approved unanimously including three that will be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through grants: $68,760 with Apple Inc. to purchase 120 iPad Air 2s for special education classes, $58,250 to Haas Factory Outlet for a gear head engine lathe for South Elgin High School’s precision manufacturing class, and $57,858 also with Haas Factory Outlet to purchase a Computer Numerical Control Mill.
Bids that will be paid for out of the education fund include $74,002 for a network switch upgrade and $225,343 to replace older switches, both coming from Heartland Business Systems, as well as $548,000 to Anderson Lock Company for lock down hardware and $30,808 to Signet Sign Company to replace an illuminated street sign display.
To be paid for out of the operations and maintenance fund were bids of $91,209 to Twin Supplies, Ltd. for LED lighting at seven district schools and $1,633,058 to SimplexGrinnell LP for the installation of electronic access controls and surveillance systems. A bid of $505,600 to National Roofing Corporation to provide roofing at Abbott Middle School will be paid for out of the capital projects fund.
Also unanimously approved that evening was $5.7 million in itemized bills. The board also held an election of officers which will remain mostly the same with the exception of vice president where Sue Kerr was elected replacing Traci Ellis who held the position over the previous year.
Donna Smith remains president of the board, Phil Costello the secretary pro-tem, Miguel Rodriguez the secretary and Jeff King the treasurer. All officers were elected unanimously.