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The Examiner U-46 News Feed

U-46 approves various expenses, proposals


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 unanimously approved six expenditure proposals totaling just under $600,000 at its meeting on Monday, April 1.
  Included were two proposals for asbestos abatement projects, one at Elgin High School costing $124,000 with Holian Asbestos Removal and the other at 1019 East Chicago St. in Elgin costing $87,900 with DEM Services, Inc. Both will be paid for by the operations and maintenance fund.
  The proposal with DEM Services, Inc. was removed from the consent agenda by board member Veronica Noland who asked for a clarification on the district’s process for determining qualified bidders.
  “Currently, any [request for proposal] that goes out, the vendors are required to pay prevailing wage and when they submit the invoices to us they’re required to have the certified payroll to us also certifying that they’re paying these employees that wage,” said Bruce Phelps, senior business official, who added that the district requires documentation be submitted from similar projects with other organizations.
  Prevailing wages act as a minimum wage and are driven by unions rather than market forces which drive up prices on taxpayers according to reports and studies by the Government Accountability Office and Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute. Noland has argued in the past that the prevailing wages don’t go far enough and that the U-46 board should control business operations by requiring bidders provide full benefits to their employees.
  Noland asked: “Does it take into account anything other than just salary, such as benefits of any kind, is that ever stipulated?”
  “No, we don’t look into the benefits,” Phelps said. “We just make sure that they’re required to pay the prevailing wage.”
  Miguel Rodriguez, chief legal officer, said that is “required by law.”
  If two or more bidders meet the prevailing wage requirements, Noland asked: “We don’t factor in anything related to whether that particular bidder also provides other benefits”?
  “No, we do not,” Phelps said.
  DEM Services, Inc. was the lowest of eight bidders. EHC Industries, Inc. did present a bid of $78,360 but “they requested to have their bid withdrawn,” said Sheila Downs, director of plant operations, at the March 18 meeting responding to a question from board member Phil Costello.
  A proposal costing $188,553 split between Dell EMC ($121,178) for Chromebooks and interactive displays as well as PACE Systems ($67,375) for interactive display stands was approved and will be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through Title I funds.
  A three-year contract with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) for professional development costing $96,000 (education fund), a proposal with Trane U.S. Inc. for replacement of building automation equipment at Elgin’s Ellis Middle School costing $56,367 (operations and maintenance fund) and a proposal with Trane Rental Services for a two-month rental of a 400-ton chiller to be used at South Elgin’s Kenyon Woods Middle School costing $44,000 (operations and maintenance fund) were all approved.
  The board also unanimously approved $10.2 million in itemized bills as well as a personnel report and workers’ compensation cases which did include two new positions, but board member Jeanette Ward said: “They’re temporary intern positions so I will be voting yes.”
  Costello and Ward have both voted against personnel report and workers’ compensation cases in the past when they included new positions, Ward in the past saying she doesn’t “agree with expanding our operations while enrollment is declining.”

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