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Multiple proposals set for Dist. U-46 board vote

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 will be taking several votes, including an expansion of dual language as well as the purchase of property in Elgin, at its upcoming meeting on Monday, May 7. The proposals were presented on April 23.
  The district is planning to expand its dual language program to high school for the 2018-19 school year and the board will be voting on the curriculum framework and resources for 10 ninth grade classrooms for the Spanish language.
  The resources being proposed include 54 individual titles (essays, biographies, chapter books, novels, short stories) at a cost of $77,811. Other online resources to be used include Study Sync and Newsela (Spanish).
  Board member Phil Costello said he’s heard some concerns from teachers and the district’s “ability to adapt” to dual language at the high school level. He asked about the “probability of success at the high school level.”
  Annette Acevedo, director of English Language Learners, said “one of the ways of addressing that is through professional development” and U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said the district has been soliciting feedback. Sanders also said “there are other districts that have done this successfully” citing a school district in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  The district is also proposing to purchase a building at 1019 E. Chicago St. The cost to purchase the property would be around $4 million, and the district estimates an additional $4 million in renovation costs. According to the proposal, the property is “95,512 square feet with approximately 10 plus acres of parking located on the east side of Elgin.”
  “It came to our attention recently that the property was going to go up for auction,” said Jeff King, deputy superintendent of operations. He added it would “provide us with several opportunities to service our public a little bit better than we do now around our testing program and our welcome center along with potentially preschool space and diverting some of the transportation buses down to that facility.”
  King said the district currently leases a parking lot on the property, and the purchase of the property would allow the district to save about $1 million a year by not needing to shuttle as many transportation employees.
  The renovations would include a break room for transportation staff as well as additional offices, and the district would move the “welcome center/testing facility” from the central office and space could be “used for preschool classrooms or other purposes” according to the proposal.
  Board member Jeanette Ward asked what the payback period would be to which King said “nine years or less.”
  Ward also asked if there would be any conflicts with the district’s transportation union. King said “we don’t foresee that, they were informed” and there’s “nothing contractually that would prevent us from doing that.”
  Costello asked about the lease terms with the parking lot. King said the district spends about $21,000 annually on the contract and has been doing so over the last 10 years, and it has always been renewed on a one-year agreement and “every June we have been renewing.”
  Regarding the cost of renovations, Costello asked before the meeting how the district came up with a $4 million estimate. In a memo to the board, the district stated: “It is just a rough estimate based on the condition of the interior space. Currently, we are investigating a remodel of about 30,000 sq. ft. at an estimated cost of $150 per sq. ft. which would land us at around $4.5 million. If we decide to finish more of the space in the short term if the existing interior does not meet our needs then the cost will increase.”
  The board with also vote on $1.5 million in expenditure items over seven proposals.
  Included is a three-year service agreement with Comcast Business costing $126,000 which would come from the education fund if approved. Comcast would help “mitigate the risk” of denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks according to the proposal.
  Such attacks, according to the proposal, are when “multiple compromised computer systems attack a target, such as a server, website or other network resource, and cause a denial of service for users of the targeted resource. The flood of incoming messages, connection requests or malformed packets to the target system forces it to slow down or even crash and shut down, thereby denying service to legitimate users or systems.”
  According to the district, a DDoS attack occurred over two days in February affecting internet connections at South Elgin High School and South Elgin’s Kenyon Woods Middle School.
  The district is also proposing a one-year contract with Micro Focus, previously Novell, which would cost $105,847 (education fund). The proposal states it would help manage district computers with Windows operating systems and “allows the Information Services team to push bundles mainly for standard apps, icons and imaging to all computers in a more efficient and controlled environment.”
  The board will vote on a contract renewal with the AVID Center costing $52,442 (education fund). Advanced Via Individual Determination is a college readiness program for seventh through 12th graders according to the proposal.
  A proposal costing $144,840 (education fund) with Warehouse Direct would go towards replacing “obsolete in-wall lunchroom/cafeteria tables that do not function properly and could  become a hazard.” The purchase would include 95 stool type tables and 50 bench type tables.
  The district is asking to buy 570 laptops for teachers with Heartland Business Systems costing $331,740 (education fund).
  Another proposal seeks to purchase grounds keeping equipment through four companies (Burris Equipment, Reinders, Buck Brothers, Martin Implement) costing $295,319 (operations and maintenance fund). The district is also seeking to buy “two dump trucks, four pickups and five transit vans” from Currie Motors Fleet Program at a cost of $426,185 (operations and maintenance fund).





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