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U-46 Board set to vote on various expense items

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 will be asked to vote on over $3 million in expenditure items at its upcoming meeting on Monday, Aug. 20. The items were presented on Aug. 6.
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said the bulk of the items were “annual things that typically come forward at this time of year” to contract with private agencies to provide services to students with an IEP, individualized education program. All items, if approved, will be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through IDEA grant funds.
  A one-year contract encompassing 16 various vendors represented the highest costing proposal at $1.9 million for speech and language therapist services.
  Board member Sue Kerr asked how the vendors were chosen and how students are placed with each vendor.
  Leatrice Satterwhite, director of specialized student services, said that each vendor is interviewed and their credentials are checked and the district has “had a relationship” with the 16 vendors. She added vendors are placed “based on the need for each building,” and she said the district has been able to hire some from within the district as last year the district spent over $2 million for the same services.
  Another one-year contract, this one with five vendors, costing $533,968 is for occupational therapist services which the proposal states that the “district cannot locate district hires.”
  Both proposals included the same language stating: “There is a nationwide, as well as statewide, shortage of therapists. The District continues to advertise for positions, as well as utilize contractual agencies to locate qualified candidates.”
  The district says that there are 1,265 students in need of occupational therapists and 3,571 in need of speech and language therapists.
  There will be a contract renewal voted on with Geneva Hearing Services at $195,000 for audiologist services and equipment for hearing exams. The audiologist is in U-46 schools weekly to provide his services according to the proposal.
  “The number of students can fluctuate throughout the year with students moving in and out of the district. Over the past several years, the audiologist has provided direct and indirect services to roughly 100 deaf/hard of hearing students each year,” the proposal states.
  At $123,435, the district is asking to renew a contract with Northwestern Illinois Association to help U-46 identify students with hearing, orthopedic and vision impairments.
  The proposal states that there’s an increase in vision services needed among students, and Kerr asked why to which Satterwhite said: “Just for next year, we need an additional teacher but then the following year, due to the number of graduates we’ll have, we will not need a vision teacher for next year.”
  With Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the district is asking for a $86,249 contract renewal for a new reading instruction platform called Next Generation. It will be used with special education students in high school.
  The district is asking for a contract renewal costing $75,000 with Gorbold Behavioral Consulting, Inc. to give “training, assessments, interventions, and/or diagnostic procedures including Applied Behavior Analysis” to about 192 students classified as autistic according to the proposal.
  A contract renewal with News-2-You Unique Learning System would cost $61,075 if approved for the Unique Learning System to support students “with IQs below 70” and English  Language Learners for “reading and math roadmaps as well as state learning standards” according to the proposal.
  A proposal with Southpaw costing $31,210 was presented to purchase a fiber optic tunnel which is a “sensory item” for students with “sensory needs” according to the proposal.
  The proposal states: “This tool provides opportunities for students to have a safe space, with necessary self-regulatory tools to meet their needs of self-regulation throughout the day in order to successfully participate in their classroom program and instruction…. This device will provide visual and tactile engagement which can appeal to a wide range of students.”
  In June, the board approved of a $74,247 proposal also with Southpaw to purchase items for sensory rooms, and board member Jeanette Ward asked: “When we approved sensory rooms before, wasn’t the fiber optic tunnel included in those?”
  Satterwhite said the previous purchase was for middle school sensory rooms, but the current proposal is for elementary schools.






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