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U-46 Board to vote on curriculum, fees, pacts

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 is set to vote on several proposals concerning curriculum and a possible dual articulated credit program with Elgin Community College at its upcoming meeting on Monday, Feb. 27. The items were presented on Monday, Feb. 6.
  The dual articulated credit program with ECC, where the plan is for starting in the 2018-19 school year, would give some U-46 students a chance to a “full course experience, college experience” at ECC according to Elizabeth Roeger, ECC’s dean of college transitions and developmental education, while receiving high school and college credit.
  “Dual-credit courses are ideal for students who are looking for new kinds of intellectual stimulation, and who are eager to challenge themselves academically,” said Terri Lozier, assistant superintendent, who added that 82 percent of high schools in the country offer a similar program.
  The projected cost is $111,000 for the credit hours, students would have to pay for books and fees, and qualifications would be a current junior with a minimum 3.0 GPA and scoring college ready on exams. Lozier said 614 students currently qualify, and working with guidance councilors the district would offer this program to 10 to 15 per high school with a total possibility of 60 students.
  Because this would be offered to select students, that raised concerns from board members Traci Ellis and Veronica Noland, and board member Sue Kerr had concerns of its effect on Advanced Placement courses.
  Ellis’ concern was with racial numbers as she said: “Your numbers look really low for minority students. What minority student outreach do you do for these programs?”
  Two area districts are piloting the program and of the 38 students 29 are white, four Asian, three Hispanic and two non-identifying. There are 25 females and 13 males.
  Rodrigo Lopez, director of high school partnership and transitions, said “we left it up to the high school administration and staff to recruit” but moving ahead “we need to do more collaborative work with that.”
  Noland was concerned U-46 councilors weren’t capable of choosing the best students fit for the program. U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said “we’re asking for authority to go up to that 60” and it’s “a niche population of our students” who would want to participate.
  Another factor is financial as this would be free college thus possibly creating free college as an entitlement.
  Jeffrey Meyer, vice chair of the ECC board, told The Examiner this wouldn’t be an additional cost.
  “The taxpayers in Illinois are still sending the same $7,000 per semester to U-46 they were before,” Meyer said. “It’s just that now, some of those dollars are getting forwarded to ECC where they’re paying for both college and high school credit at the same time. There’s no additional tax dollars involved at all, in U-46 or at ECC, even if U-46 pays the tuition. It operates just like a voucher would, except that single dollar is also buying two credits at the same time instead of just one.”
  Board member Jeanette Ward said at the meeting: “I like the fact that it’s a choice that gives parents and students another option.”
  Also presented were curriculum proposals for K-6 fine arts and secondary social studies.
  On the fine arts proposal Quaver Music’s K-6 General Music Resources with a five-year license and s-x-day training would cost $315,000. Alicia Kopec, K-12 fine arts coordinator, said “U-46 curriculum is outdated, over 10 years.”
  The social studies proposal would be a total cost of $1.4 million between Cengage’s World Cultures and Geography ($348,925) and McGraw-Hill’s Discovering Our Past: A History of the United States: Early Years ($273,508), United States history and Geography: Modern Times ($235,344) and Understanding Economics ($100,854) as well as Pearson’s Macgruder’s American Government ($99,869) and laptop carts ($326,523).
  “We believe that social studies prepares students to be informed and knowledgeable to be active citizens, more so as teachers we feel that it is our duty to teach our students how to think and act as independent, responsible citizens,” said social studies teacher Jon Miquelon.
  Board member Phil Costello asked if this was a one-time cost and how long the licenses last, and the administration said there are no “ongoing costs associated” and the license lasts a minimum of six years.
  Also presented were the proposed school fees for next year. Jeff King, chief operations officer, said there was only one change which was increasing the driver’s education textbook from $25 to $37. Ward said members of the public want to know why school fees are necessary and King said “to cover consumable expenses, textbooks and technology” and U-46’s fees are comparable or lower than neighboring districts.
  A $104,439 expenditure with the College Board to provide a free AP exam to students who are free or reduced lunch qualified will be voted on as well as a $49,300 proposal with the AVID Center for professional development. Both would come out of the education fund if approved.
  Two proposals with Chef’s Depot, totaling $277,630 out of the food and nutrition fund, would be used to purchase new and replacement electric ovens, racks, carts and a steamer with gas generator. Board member Cody Holt asked about the current age and lifespan of the equipment being replaced, and King said the average age is 15 years and lifespan is 10-15 years.
  A proposal with A1 Fowler Inc. ($48,800) and Peak Electric, Inc. ($65,000), out of the capital projects fund, would pay for classroom demolitions. Holt asked why A1 Fowler Inc. was able to come in so low, the next nearest bidder at $105,000, and King said that company was used previously and part of the proposal gives the company the ability to recycle the metal and that company is best equipped to recycle on site.



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