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The Examiner U-46 News Feed

District U-46 Board ratifies varied proposals


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved three expenditure proposals totaling $166,700 at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 2. The proposals were presented on Sept. 25.
  One of the proposals, a $44,500 contract with Grant Thornton LLP which will come out of the education fund, came with a 5-2 vote as Phil Costello and Jeanette Ward voted no.
  According to the proposal, it was for “a negotiated and signed contract with a single vendor for our 403(b) and 457” retirement plans for employees as a “consolidation of vendors from over 20 to one.”
  Grant Thornton will “advise us during our request for proposal (RFP) process for selecting the new provider” according to the proposal.
  For Costello, the contract shows a lack of competition which is something he has seen previously from Grant Thornton.
  “I believe that we need to focus more on getting multiple sources of competitive bids for contracts rather than going with sole sourced vendors and allowing them to kind of pull through our competitive contracts, or lack of competition,” Costello said. “I understand that Grant Thornton is an exceptional organization, I would just like to see options put forth before the board.”
  Earlier in September, the board approved a contract with a vision insurance provider recommended by Grant Thornton, also by a 5-2 vote with both Costello and Ward voting no.
  Grant Thornton made the recommendation strictly on “confidence” rather than through a competitive bid process.
  “While the consultants might be confident, I don’t like the fact that our paid consultants feel that we should be relying on no-bid renewals and are recommending not even considering plan adjustments or providing market conditions for prospective,” Costello said at the time and added: “District U-46 should not have to pay for quotes, and if we have to pay Grant Thornton for important information we should find a different benefits consulting firm.”
  Board member Sue Kerr asked regarding the retirement plan contract: “This is a year contract so we would be rebidding it in another year, is that correct?”
  Jeff King, chief operating officer, said: “Actually, no. Their services are going to be temporary to help us put the RFP out, evaluate the respondents and then the contract will be complete. Their services will be complete for this service.”
  Approved by unanimous 7-0 votes were two proposals for professional development on reading strategies 1 and 2 and literacy lab courses, one with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt totaling $54,700 and the other with American Reading Company totaling $67,500. Both will be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through Title I and II grant funds.
  The Houghton Mifflin Harcourt professional development will “support 19 teachers in implementing high quality instructional practices in their secondary classrooms supporting 322 students” according to the proposal and “thirty-three teachers and 1,450 students will be supported” by American Reading Company according to that proposal.
  The board also unanimously approved $7 million in itemized bills.

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