The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 Board set to vote on various proposals
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 will be voting on a pair of bids totaling $135,941 as well as 13 contracts costing $4.2 million at its upcoming meeting on Monday, Aug. 14. The proposals were presented on Monday, July 24.
Among the contracts are two for professional development, one a renewal with Rosa Consulting costing $27,000 and the other with MiraVia LLC costing $45,600. Both would come out of the education fund, if approved.
Board member Jeanette Ward said she had asked for the materials that will be used during the professional development session and wanted an elaboration on “the specific content.”
U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said “it’s not content specific” while Ushma Shah, assistant superintendent, said that part of the presentations will be videos pulled from “different pages” such as YouTube. Shah said the sessions are to figure out “what is our understanding of effective instruction.”
Through a memo to the board, Shah sent links to some of the videos that will be used. Ward told The Examiner that there is objectionable content within some of the videos.
The memo states that “these are proprietary materials and that we do not have permission to share beyond the board.” Ward said she believes that parents and taxpayers should be allowed to see the videos before a vote is taken.
In regards to the Rosa Consulting contract, board member Sue Kerr asked if it was for first-year teachers but Shah said it actually is “aimed at administrators and teacher leaders” for “developing other adults.”
Among the two bids to be voted on is one totaling $53,807, coming out of the education fund, with the Committee for Children to purchase Second Step materials which deals with “social-emotional skills” training which “will support all first grade students” according to the proposal.
The proposal states: “This classroom based program is designed to teach children how to understand and manage their emotions, control their reactions, be aware of others’ feelings, and have the skills to problem-solve and make responsible decisions.”
Such training has sparked controversy in the past concerning the role of schools as compared to parents. Within the Second Step program, first grade students are taught about sexuality.
Ward told The Examiner in 2015, after she voted against the same materials, that “the schools role is to teach the basics like arithmetic and writing. The social and emotional stuff, that’s the domain of parents. How to teach interpersonal skills, that’s the job of parents.”
Parents can opt out of the Second Step program.
The other bid is with Heartland Business Systems to purchase 390 laptops costing $82,134. It would be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through Title I grant funds.
Kerr asked how the laptops would be split between schools. Trisha Shrode, director of curriculum and instruction, said “it’s divvied up by school based on their allocation” and the laptops will only benefit Title I schools, those that are deemed impoverished.
Among the remaining contracts is a renewal with Northwest Evaluation Association costing $283,900, to be paid for through the education fund. Ward clarified that this contract was to allow the district to administer MAP tests which the administration said was correct.
A contract renewal with Geneva Hearing Services would cost $195,000 and be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through Federal IDEA Grant funds.
Board member Melissa Owens asked if the district is purchasing equipment through this contract. Leatrice Satterwhite, director of specialized student services, said the district would be renting and it’s “for all of the equipment. Hearing aids, the audio sound systems as well as services from audiologists.”
Board member Phil Costello asked for a “ballpark figure” on how many students use the service each year. Satterwhite said she couldn’t give a “ballpark” that night but would get back to him, and she added “it varies for students” each year.
A contract renewal with esped.com, Inc. would cost $58,366, coming out of the special education fund. Owens asked if this was for creating Individualized Education Programs, and board member Veronica Noland asked if there’s a parent portal with the system, and Satterwhite said yes to both.
Another contract renewal to be paid for through Federal IDEA Grant funds is a proposal costing $537,804 among at least six organizations including Cumberland Therapy, EBS Healthcare, Encore Rehabilitation, IEP Therapy – The Speech Tree, Jackson Therapy and Top Echelon. The proposal is for occupational therapy services.
Kerr asked if the amount is “up to” the $537,804, and Satterwhite said it’s an estimate but “if it goes over we can amend our grant” and there can be a reallocation of funds if it’s under.
A $2.3 million contract renewal, also through Federal IDEA Grant funds, for speech language therapists would go to at least 16 organizations or individuals: Bilingual Therapies LLC, Career Staff, Cheryl Hoika, Community Therapy, Comprehensive/Lingua, EBS Healthcare, Horizons Rehabilitation Services, KB Bilingual, Maria T. Rodriguez, Presence Learning, Rockstar Recruiting LLC DBA Staff Rehab, Soliant Health, Staffing Options and Solutions, Sunbelt Staffing, TanaMaria Bilingual Therapies and Therapy Care.
There were three additional contract renewal proposals that would be paid for through the education fund including with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ($58,789), the College Board ($101,102) and Recognition Corporation ($389,560 for three years). Through Federal IDEA Grant funds are contract renewal proposals with Northwestern Illinois Association ($69,641.20) and News-2-You Unique Learning System ($49,507.50), and from Title I funds is a renewal with Golden Apple Stem Institute ($37,500).