The Examiner U-46 News Feed
Variety of resolutions await U-46 board action
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 is set to vote on a series of resolutions at its upcoming meeting on Monday, June 17. The items were presented on June 3.
Included is one annual resolution, that to establish prevailing wage rates for contractors who do work for the district, which has led to split votes by the board in the recent past with former board members Phil Costello, Cody Holt and Jeanette Ward all opposing it.
The past opposition stemmed from the fact the prevailing wages, which act as a minimum wage, are set by union forces coming from the Illinois Department of Labor (IDL) numbers rather than market forces thus causing a higher cost burden on taxpayers. Furthermore, Ward said last year: “This creates a lack of competition within the marketplace essentially cutting out local small businesses and minority contractors from being able to bid on a public works project.”
There was no discussion by the new board on the resolution and all current board members have been endorsed by district and/or outside labor unions.
The former board members who opposed the prevailing wage rates advocated for U-46 doing its own survey of area vendors rather than using the IDL numbers which U-46 CEO Tony Sanders has previously said is allowed.
A Government Accountability Office report has found that prevailing wage laws lead to “a lack of transparency in the survey process” and benefit entrenched contractors and unions to force out competition. A 2015 Operational Employment Statistics report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that within U-46, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin/Cook region, showed that the union-driven prevailing wage rates increase taxpayer costs by 39.7 percent.
The board will also vote on a list of authorized depositories, the companies that handle U-46’s investment portfolio. Dale Burnidge, director of financial services, said the district is using the “same companies that we’ve used in the past” which include English Concepts d/b/a/ PMA Securities, Inc., the Illinois School District Liquid Asset Fund and JP Morgan Chase and Co.
This item was also questioned in the past by Costello who argued for a more competitive process which could lead to higher yields on the district’s investments. The district has consistently stayed with the same firms.
There was no discussion by the current board on the item.
The board will vote on a consolidated plan to follow new state requirements which Sanders said “merges all of the grant programs that the state runs, federal government runs. We have to submit now a consolidated plan where the state can see these things and how they intersect.”
The proposal states: “Historically, the Specialized Student Services Department, English Language Learners Department and Curriculum and Instruction Departments have separately developed their grant applications. In February of 2019, we were notified that we would need to submit a consolidated plan before federal grant applications would be released. The goal of writing the consolidated plan was for the district to review how each department considers the specific students served under their grants and begin to examine how we may better work together to leverage federal grant programs in the future.”
A resolution approving of hazardous transportation area designations in the district will be voted upon.
Sanders said the list, which includes 25 U-46 locations, “confirms that the hazardous transportation area designations previously approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation still exist, and that students that resided within the designated areas during the 2018-19 school year were provided free transportation services.”
Sue Kerr, the board’s president, asked if a parent believes that there is a hazardous area that is not on the list can request that it be considered. Jeff Prowell, director of transportation, said “they can certainly contact the transportation department” and the form process is “relatively simple for us to do that.”
The board will vote on a resolution to authorize the transfer of interest earnings from the working cash fund to the operations and maintenance fund. Burnidge said a change from previous years is that it is going to operations and maintenance when previously the transfer went to the transportation fund “because we had a deficit balance” in that fund which no longer exists.
Also to receive a vote are resolutions authorizing participation in federal and state programs and authorizing the treasurer to make bond and interest payments.