The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 Board to vote on policy change, expenses
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 is expected to vote on changes to policy 2.201 at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 7.
Two legislative committee meetings have been held on the policy concerning closed session meetings, and a draft with the change was presented on Monday, Oct. 17.
Although board member Jeanette Ward said she was “ok with the rest of it,” there was one portion she wanted changed before the vote. The concerning portion is in regards to board member access to closed session recordings which the presented draft stated notice “shall be given to the CEO or his designee 3-5 business days in advance.”
The proposed change from Ward was “when possible, reasonable notice will be given” and in parenthesis would be three to five days.
Ward made that suggestion during the previous committee meeting and “the point being I didn’t want to have to nail us down to three to five days” and it doesn’t need to be codified into policy.
The Illinois Open Meetings Act clarifies that local elected officials have a right to unfettered access to such recordings, and placing a specific regulation of advanced notice could lead to legal issues in the future.
Ward said she’s sympathetic to the administrations time and has given more notice previously when requesting access, but to put that in policy could hamper a board member’s ability to access.
“I’m willing to give as much notice as I can and to be reasonable, but there might be a time when we need quick access,” Ward said.
Veronica Noland, who co-chaired the committee meetings with Ward, agreed and said that she recalled the board members being in agreement at the last committee meeting. She said “we just overlooked that when we got down to the final draft.”
“(Ward) had a good point in that there may be an occasion where you’re within two days but you really need to listen to it and you might need to ask,” Noland said.
Miguel Rodriguez, chief legal officer, said he’d make the change.
Some of the other changes include additional language such as the need to record closed session meetings is “required by law” and that not just “a summary” of minutes will be kept but rather “an accurate summary.” The draft also allows “portions of a recording” to be publicly released with board approval, not just a full recording.
The ability of a recording to be publicly released with a board vote if it “no longer requires confidential treatment” remains, but nothing was added to the policy to clearly define what is or is not considered confidential.
The board will also vote in November on a $609,500 expenditure with Anderson Lock Company, which would come out of the education fund, as well as a one-year contract renewal costing $91,550 with Pearson Learning Assessments, which the nation’s taxpayers will be asked to pick up the bill through Title I and II funds.
The Anderson Lock Company bid is to “complete the installation of replacement … door locking hardware at middle schools.”
Board member Phil Costello inquired on why the money would come from the education fund which Rickey Sparks, director of business services, said: “Part of this is it goes into the general fund, so the general fund is the education fund for the school district. So anything that is not specifically tied to a fund goes into the education fund.”
This is Phase 2 of a project and board member Sue Kerr asked where the district stood on Phase 1, which was for elementary schools. Chris Allen, director of plant operations, said that phase was “near completion.”
The contract with Pearson is split up with $82,550 going towards the purchase of AIMSWEB Progress Monitoring Systems and $9,000 toward professional development.
Kerr asked about how AIMSWEB was being evaluated and Trisha Shrode, director of curriculum and instruction, said: “AIMSWEB is a progress monitoring tool, so when kids are in intervention it’s what we use to monitor their progress, hence the name.”
Shrode said through talking with teachers, U-46 is reviewing the “appropriateness” of the product and “moving forward until next year” with it. A determination of the effectiveness will be made next year.
The board voted on the product last year, and Ward asked if there was an increase in price. Shrode did not have the answer at the meeting but said they “added a more comprehensive professional development portion” and the quantity increased.
The Examiner reviewed the vote from last year and found that the cost for AIMSWEB last year was $79,596 meaning a $2,954 increase for the product plus the $9,000 for professional development.