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U-46 Board set to vote on resolutions, expenses


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 will vote on a series of resolutions as well as $1.9 million in expenditure proposals at its upcoming meeting on Monday, June 18. The items were presented on June 4.
  One of the resolutions sets prevailing wage rates for the district which are essentially a minimum wage for outside contractors used by U-46.
  Board member Jeanette Ward asked: “Where did the prevailing wages come from?”
  Jeff King, chief operating officer, said they are from the Illinois Department of Labor (IDL) and added last year’s numbers are being used because “new ones have not been published yet.”
  Ward and board member Phil Costello have both opposed the resolution in the past as the district relies on the IDL numbers which are driven by unions rather than market forces, and they have advocated for the district doing its own study.
  “I’ve advocated for doing our own prevailing wage survey,” Ward said.
  King said “we just don’t have the personnel to do that” and Miguel Rodriguez, chief legal officer, said “it’s unlikely that that would be acceptable” under the law.
  However, previously the district administration has said it could do its own study and has advocated for the elimination of the prevailing wage requirement for school districts.
  In 2016, U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said: “State law still requires the board should pass the resolution establishing a prevailing wage, but it does allow school districts to survey… across our communities to determine our own prevailing wage.”
  A Government Accountability Office report has found that prevailing wage laws lead to “a lack of transparency in the survey process” and benefit entrenched contractors and unions to force out competition. A study by Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute found that prevailing wage laws increase costs by an average of 22 percent.
  Other resolutions to be voted on include one authorizing the district to take part in federal and state programs, another approving of hazardous transportation area designations (street crossings that are deemed dangerous for students to cross), another allowing a transfer of interest earnings to the transportation fund and another allowing King to pay down some of the district’s debt.
  Contracts to be voted on include a $25,000 renewal, from the education fund if approved, with the American Reading Company for Schoolpace, which is a “platform for reading teachers to collect formative student reading evidence and data on a daily basis,” according to the proposal.
  The district is also asking for a one-year contract renewal with Sentinel costing $119,697 (education fund) for a technical support agreement “to its telecommunications network Cisco licenses and hardware,” the proposal states.
  With Frontline Education, the district is asking for a contract renewal costing $31,717 (education fund) for software pertaining to U-46’s human resources information system.
  A contract renewal costing $38,200 (education fund) with Heartland Business Systems for AirWatch software which would allow the district to manage and track student usage of tablets, or iPads.
  The proposal states: “This mobile device management solution allows Information Services staff to install and maintain district-approved applications on iPads, plus create and manage individual user profiles. The management of user profiles is critical when working in an environment where the students share devices.”
  U-46 is asking for a one-year contract renewal with CDW-G costing $127,796 (education fund) for Microsoft Office Suite licensing.
  The district is asking for a two-year contract approval with Northern Illinois University costing no more than $224,000, paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through federal grant funds, for current district teachers to receive special education endorsements. Teachers who took part in it would have to commit to staying with U-46 for five years or pay the tuition back.
  The district also proposed a $1.2 million expense (education fund) with Dell Marketing LP to purchase 2,712 desktop computers. Dell was not the lowest bidder but the proposal stated others “did not meet our hardware specifications.”
  A proposal with Southpaw costing $74,247 (federal grant funds) would go towards seven sensory rooms for special education students to “create relaxing and calming yet stimulating environments that work to develop users’ sensory needs,” according to the proposal. Another bid, by Flaghouse, came in over $4,000 cheaper but the district said “Southpaw was determined to have a superior and higher quality product for sensory room use.”
  The final proposal, costing $55,433 (federal grant funds), with Brecht’s Database Solutions would go towards creating a “data management system that will support (Individualized Education Programs), 504 plans, service log management and Medicaid billing and claims,” the proposal states.

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