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U-46 Board to vote on expanded ECC program


By Seth Hancock
  School District U-46 may expand its dual credit program with Elgin Community College (ECC) through a proposal presented to the Board of Education at its meeting on Monday, April 1.
  The $3.1 million proposal over five years, which will come out of the education fund if approved, is expected the be voted on by the board at its upcoming April 15 meeting.
  There are currently 44 students in the program who attend full-time classes at ECC. The district is planning to expand into two separate programs.
  The first program would be an early college program similar to the current program with students taking classes at ECC. The second is dual credit classes offered at U-46 high schools and taught by district teachers.
  A change is now students participating in this program can also participate in IHSA athletics.
  The district plans for 50 seniors to enter the early college program next year while going to 50 juniors and 50 seniors a year starting in 2020-2021 as students will expect to earn an associate’s degree by the time of their high school graduation with tuition costing $132 per credit hour. The dual credit classes would cost $50 per student per class and the district expects 1,500 students yearly taking those classes.
  The ECC program is also offered at D300 and D303. Like D300, U-46 plans to pay the full $4,500 tuition cost while D303 has a split paying $2,500 while the students pay $2,000.
  Chris Boden, lead counselor, said making those benefiting from the program to pay for it “could potentially be an inhibiting factor” and by U-46 paying the tuition it will save those families by “offering a college experience” at the expense of other taxpaying families.
  From the districts racial profiling numbers, Boden said some racial groups are overrepresented and others underrepresented but ECC is changing its eligibility requirements opening the program up for more students which “should allow us to be a little more selective and get a little bit closer to those district demographics.”
  “They don’t quite mirror district demographics and we are anticipating a move in that direction because of, number one the inclusion of IHSA activities for all students in these programs moving forward, and then number two those new entrance requirements that we see at ECC,” Boden said.
  Board member Sue Kerr asked about library usage to which Lela Majstorovic, assistant superintendent, said students will have access to ECC’s library.
  Kerr also asked about athletics participation and Majstorovic said the district has worked with the IHSA to develop a system to “prove eligibility.” Board member Jeanette Ward asked “and that was not the case last year,” to which Boden said they just got approval for students in the program starting for this spring’s sports season. Both Kerr and Ward were glad to see that change.
  Replying to another question from Kerr, Majstorovic said “the students and families buy the textbooks that are required.”
  Board member Melissa Owens asked about the dual credit program at U-46 schools which Majstorovic said students can take one or multiple courses in the program. She also said it should “compliment” the Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
  Kerr asked if the U-46 science labs are able to handle the ECC courses that would be taught at district schools and Mary Perkins, dean of college transitions, said ECC will evaluate the labs and U-46 will “have to explore” options.
  Board member Phil Costello asked: “I appreciate that [students are] paying for their materials…. What was our kind of rationale for covering the full costs of tuition for a student?”
  Majstorovic said other districts, like D300 and others in different community college districts, cover tuition and “we don’t want it to be a barrier” to students who can’t afford it.
  Costello called the program “a great bridge” for students, but “this is a heavy cost on the district and I was just wondering what the tradeoff is.”
  There are 10 other expenditure proposals to be voted on at the April 15 meeting totaling $5.7 million.
  Included is a $3.3 million proposal (life safety and operations and maintenance funds) with MG Mechanical Contracting, Inc. for an HVAC system replacement at Bartlett’s Centennial Elementary School.
  There are two parking lot paving proposals, one at Bartlett’s Nature Ridge Elementary School costing $839,239 (operations and maintenance) with A Lamp Concrete Contractors, Inc. and the other at Hanover Park’s Parkwood Elementary School costing $933,817 (operations and maintenance) with Schroeder Asphalt Services, Inc. Sheila Downs, director of plant operations, said parking lots last about 20 years depending on certain factors as she joked: “The polar vortex does not help.”
  There are two contract renewals with the AVID Center, both from the education fund, costing $55,042 to offer the AVID program and $46,000 for professional development.
  With Tableau Software, Inc., the district is asking for a three-year contract renewal costing $91,800 (education fund) for maintenance. With Micro Focus, U-46 is asking for a two-year contract renewal costing $220,986 (education fund) for software renewal.
  The district is asking for $29,580 (education fund) with Raptor Technologies for renewal of the district’s visitor sign-in software. There is no increase in costs from the current year.
  Ward said “it’s nice that there is no increase from last year,” and Costello said “it’s always nice to know what [the cost] is relative to the prior contract.” Bruce Phelps, senior business official, said the district will provide cost comparisons on renewals “from now on.”
  With the College Board, the district is asking for $51,050 (education fund) for AP professional development. Majstorovic, in response to a question from Kerr, said all new teachers are required to take the professional development and “we do require it every couple of years” for returning teachers.
  The district is asking for $101,604 (education fund) to purchase secondary schools student planners over three years from Global Datebooks. Kerr asked about the possibility of going to electronic planners which Majstorovic said: “That’s definitely a consideration that we can make… in the future.”
  The board will also vote on renewal of membership with the IHSA, which has no costs for dues. Ward asked if it was required by law for the board to vote on this to which U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said “IHSA regulations require it.”

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