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U-46 consent agenda vote ratifies $8M in expenses
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved over $8 million in expenditure items under its consent agenda at its meeting on Monday, April 15.
The vote was 6-0, board member Jeanette Ward was absent. Ward, who noted her absence was due to a business trip, explained her opposition to one item that was approved.
Two contract renewals with the AVID Center, both to be paid for by the education fund, were approved costing $55,042 to offer the AVID program and $46,000 for professional development. Ward wrote she would have voted against the professional development contract because of its divisive and partisan nature of pushing racial and other sub-group divisions.
Part of the training included two sessions titled “Culturally Relevant Teaching,” one with a teacher focus and the other a student focus. It describes the training as preparing “to conduct a self-examination and address issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and accountability through a growth mindset. The strand will provide a framework of effective methodologies that validate the culture of all students in the classroom and on the campus.…Come ready to engage with colleagues in community-building activities and critical conversations around race, gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, and language, as well as other culturally relevant topics.”
For Ward, such conversations are not appropriate to be had with government workers but rather with family and friends.
“This is the dividing of people by different groups and focusing on what divides us instead of what unites us,” Ward wrote. “Conversations about race, gender, class, and sexual orientation are best had in the home, with PARENTS present. AVID, by definition, ‘Advancement via INDIVIDUAL Determination,’ is supposed to be focused on individuals, not groups.”
Ward added: “Conversations about race, gender, class, and sexual orientation are not relevant to encouraging students to apply and succeed in college, unless they are majoring in Community Organizing. The descriptions of these sessions are about advancing leftism and focusing on what divides instead of what unites us and I cannot support them.”
Although opposed to the professional development, Ward noted her support of the idea behind AVID.
“What a great idea, to challenge students to take responsibility for their own lives and encourage those who perhaps wouldn’t have considered going to college, to go to college,” Ward wrote. “As the first in my family to complete a Bachelor’s degree, and then two Masters’ degrees, I love encouraging students to achieve what might not have been possible in their families in previous generations.”
The largest expenditure item approved under consent was 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.
A $3.1 million proposal, from the education fund, over five years with Elgin Community College (ECC) was approved to expand its dual credit program. The district, which will pay the full tuition for students, expects 50 juniors and 50 seniors to take full-time classes at ECC by 2020-2021 as part of an early college program while expecting 1,500 students annually taking dual credit classes at U-46 high schools starting in 2019-2020.
Two parking lot paving proposals were approved, 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.
The board approved a two-year contract renewal with Micro Focus costing $220,986 (education fund) for software renewal, a $101,604 expenditure (education fund) to purchase secondary schools student planners over three years from Global Datebooks, a three-year contract renewal costing $91,800 (education fund) for maintenance with Tableau Software, Inc., a $51,050 proposal (education fund) with the College Board for Advanced Placement professional development and a $29,580 renewal (education fund) of the district’s visitor sign-in software with Raptor Technologies.
Also via 6-0 votes, the board approved a renewal of the district’s membership with the Illinois High School Association and $6.3 million in itemized bills.