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U-46 Board approves revision to board policy

By Seth Hancock
  The U-46 Board of Education unanimously approved a revision to board policy as well as just under $200,000 in expenditure items at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 21.
  The policy change came under Section 7 concerning students. It was approved by a 6-0 vote with board member Sue Kerr not in attendance.
  Board members Veronica Noland and Jeanette Ward both voted for the change but stipulated they would like to relook at the policy, specifically 7.1 which concerns a first-day exclusion for students without proof of vaccinations or physical exams. That policy is stricter than the state law which requires proof by Oct. 15 of a given school year.
  Ward said: “I’m going to be voting yes with the understanding that we are going to revisit the first-day exclusion policy for next year to hopefully match what the state allows which is Oct. 15.”
  Noland suggested the policy be looked at sooner rather than later, around September or October, to prepare for next school year.
  In May, U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said “the board has always had a policy that says we exclude students on the first day of school,” but this was the first year the district followed the policy.
  On Aug. 14 when the proposed changes to the rest of Section 7 were offered, board member Melissa Owens said that at a June parent/teacher advisory committee meeting the board members in attendance suggested not changing 7.1 because there wasn’t enough time to institute it for this school year. Board member Sue Kerr also said there was a “big push this year” to get immunizations and physical exams done and they wanted to see how many students were excluded this year before changing.
  Ward noted that the district sent out a misleading communication to parents for this school year which “to comply with the state requirements, all student immunization forms and proof of physicals must be dropped off before or on the first day of school.”
  “I felt like the communication that went out to parents was informing parents that it is state law that you are excluded on the first day of school if you don’t have your immunizations, and that’s not true,” Ward said. “That’s not what the state law says.”
  “It made it sound like to parents, ‘don’t blame us it was the state…’ and that’s not true,” Ward added.
  Sanders said Ward was “correct” and “we’ve since corrected that.” He also said “we will start that process” to look at 7.1 in October.
  One of the key changes that was made came in 7.06 which lowers the compulsory attendance age from seven to six to follow state law.
  Ward asked when the state law lowered the compulsory attendance age which Luis Rodriguez, the district’s staff attorney, said “it was at the beginning of the 14-15 school year” and “that rule is applicable to the parents of the child.” Rodriguez said the update was being brought forward now because it was previously overlooked due to an error in the 2016 statute book sent to school districts, but Ward noted: “I wasn’t questioning that the administration was slow in adopting. I don’t support actually lowering the compulsory age, so that’s why I asked when it was done.”
  The board approved by 6-0 votes two proposals with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, one to purchase the Read 180 Coaching resource costing $46,550 and the other for Read 180 New Generation licenses costing $70,004. Both will be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through Federal IDEA Grant funds.
  Out of the education fund two items were unanimously approved including a software purchase from Heartland Business Systems LLC ($29,631.75) and educational support resources from AVID Center ($50,622).
  The board also approved the renewal of its contracts with four police departments to provide school resource officers at U-46 middle and high schools. There is a 1.7 percent increase in the contract from $994,909 last year to just over $1 million. The board also approved $5.2 million in itemized bills.



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