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By unanimous vote U-46 approves expense items

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 unanimously approved of eight expenditure items totaling over $3 million at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 20. The board voted 6-0 on the items, board member Phil Costello was absent.
  All items will be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through IDEA grant funds.
  The highest costing items were one-year contracts, one with 16 various vendors for speech and language therapist services costing $1.9 million and another with five vendors for occupational therapist services costing $533,968. The district says that there are 1,265 students in need of occupational therapists and 3,571 in need of speech and language therapists.
  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.”
  “Agencies have been in place from prior year(s). A relationship has been established and allows for business partnership with a vested interest in our students,” the proposals also state.
  A contract renewal with Geneva Hearing Services ($195,000) was approved for audiologist services and equipment for hearing exams.
  The proposal states: “The district opts to purchase services for Audiology and equipment relating to providing the program for the hearing-impaired students…. Yearly, the audiologist sees approximately 400 U-46 students in the clinic for testing. All U-46 students are able to access Geneva Hearing Services once a year to detect hearing loss.”
  A contract renewal with Northwestern Illinois Association (NIA) costing $123,435 was approved for identifying students with hearing, orthopedic and vision impairments.
  “NIA baseline services include: information associated with professional organizations, state committees and/or special task force groups; consultative service. Due to an increase of students needing vision services for FY19 an additional vision teacher is needed,” the proposal states.
  The board approved a contract renewal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ($86,249) for the reading instruction platform Next Generation.
  That proposal states: “Specialized Student Services has identified a need to increase reading instruction using research and evidence-based resources for our high school special education students struggling with accessing text for meaning-making and word attack skills. Students who cannot decode the text struggle to actively participate in general education classrooms as the least restrictive environment.”
  A contract renewal with Gorbold Behavioral Consulting, Inc. ($75,000) was approved for “training, assessments, interventions, and/or diagnostic procedures including Applied Behavior Analysis” to about 192 students classified as autistic according to the proposal as was one with News-2-You Unique Learning System ($61,075) to support students “with IQs below 70” and English Language Learners for “reading and math roadmaps as well as state learning standards.”
  The board approved of the purchase of a fiber optic tunnel, a “sensory item” for students with “sensory needs” according to the proposal, with Southpaw ($31,210).
  The proposal said: “Sensory items create relaxing and calming yet stimulating experiences that work to develop users’ sensory needs…. Every person has different ways of coping with successful triggers. Some ways to alleviate these negative feelings are through: scents, images, tactile textures, lights, sounds, weights, etc.”
  The board also voted 6-0 on an itemized bills list totaling $5.2 million.





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