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U-46 proposals, bills ratified among questions

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved of 15 proposals costing $5.6 million as well as an itemized bills list totaling $8.6 million at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 6.
  One proposal costing $1.7 million with Discovery Education was approved by a 6-1 vote, Jeanette Ward voting no. That item will be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through Title II grant funds.
  The proposal will provide professional development regarding new resources, Discovery Math Techbook–all digital! specifically, that were approved back in March under a secondary math curriculum proposal. Ward also voted against that proposal and said she “cannot in good conscience vote yes on professional development to implement it.”
  Ward said she opposed that resource because it was “very much like Eureka Math in that it was language-heavy and math-light as well as the fact that it taught anthropogenic global warming.”
  In March, Ward said that “students who are gifted in math strongly dislike when math is presented in this way and it hinders understanding,” and she added that she’s heard from students who are “very frustrated” with it. She also posted examples at the time on social media of the resource straying from the realm of mathematics and into the partisan political issue of the theory of manmade global warming.
  Ward also said at the Aug. 6 meeting that she was not provided with the materials from the professional development that she asked for, but that “may have been an oversight.”
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said: “Because of the length of time that this professional development would occur, we did not have the specific presentations… so all we had were the agendas.”
  The remaining items were all approved 7-0 under the consent agenda, one being questioned prior to the meeting with Van Acker & Associates for consultancy services regarding the district’s behavioral system. That item costs $63,720 (IDEA Part B grant funds).
  Ward asked for “data showing the effectiveness” of the consultant.
  The district replied: “Specialized Student Services reached out to Directors of Special Education in districts that Dr. Van Acker has consulted with in the past. The feedback was very positive. One director indicated that they have contracted Dr. Van Acker for over 12 years for consultation work.”
  “In addition to high recommendations, Dr. Van Acker is also a very well respected professor (emeritus) from University of Illinois, as well as highly published (both books and peer-reviewed journals) due to his expertise working with similar populations,” the district added.
  Regarding employee benefits, the board approved of a three-year contract renewal with Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, Inc. costing $839,234 (education, operations and maintenance and transportation funds).
  From the tort fund, the board approved two proposals including one costing $830,431 over five years with Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. and the other a contract renewal between Continental National American ($358,640) and Safety National ($271,812).
  Approved was a proposal with Renaissance Learning for the Star 360 student progress monitoring system costing $529,161 ($424,331 from education fund, $104,830 from Title II grant funds).
  Two proposals with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt were approved for professional development for reading classrooms ($119,638 Title II grant funds) and for the Cognitive Abilities Test ($52,665, education fund). Another professional development proposal for reading teachers was approved with TaJu Educational Solutions ($27,000, Title II grant funds).
  Several items that will be paid for by the education fund were approved including two with the College Board for AP exams ($184,556) and PSAT exams ($127,335) as well as proposals with Northwest Evaluation Association ($304,050), Hanover Research ($136,020), LTI, The ACTFL Language Testing Office (no more than $52,000) and TurnItIn ($39,100).
  The approved itemized bills were questioned before the meeting by both Ward and board member Phil Costello.
  Included was $1,018 spent under petty cash from the transportation department which Ward asked for an explanation. The district said: “The petty cash is used to issue checks to drivers who meet the criteria for a reimbursable meal per the contract.”
  The transportation union’s contract states: “Any time an Out-of-District trip is in excess of eight (8) hours, the driver will be entitled to be reimbursed for those mealtimes that occur during the trip. An Out-of-District trip driver will also be entitled to a dinner meal reimbursement in the event a charter trip is three (3) hours or longer beyond the regular working day or finished after  7:00 p.m., whichever is later.”
  Costello asked for an explanation on three items. The district said $49,900 spent with Midwest Decorating was for interior painting of an elementary school, $2,000 with S20 Consultants, Inc. was for the “bid and construction for the commissary” and $1,600 with Cove Remediation was for removing “asbestos containing caulk, Freight Elevator project.”





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