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U-46 primed to vote on multiple pact renewals

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 is set to vote on 15 contract renewals totaling $4.5 million at its upcoming meeting on Monday, Aug. 12.
  The items were presented on July 15 and were among 25 expenditure items totaling $5.3 million.
  The largest renewal is $2.1 million going to 18 different entities or individuals for speech language therapist services which will be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through federal grant funds if approved. The price is an increase from $1.9 million last year while Community Therapy ($570,860) represents the largest contract and both Ana Grzybek ($97,125) and Maria Rodriguez ($96,037) are the highest paid individuals.
  “There is a nationwide, as well as statewide, shortage of therapists,” the proposal states.
  Sue Kerr, the board’s president, asked how the therapists are chosen to which Leatrice Satterwhite, director of specialized student services, said most have been used in U-46 “for several years” and “we try to keep that consistency… as much as possible.”
  “We treat them as if they’re district employees when it comes to professional development and other supports provided to them,” Satterwhite said. “The only difference is how they’re compensated.”
  Board member Melissa Owens asked if all therapists were paid the same rate and Satterwhite said: “No, they’re different. It is a little more costly than if they are district employees.”
  The district is asking for $543,058, also through federal grant funds, for occupational therapy services through Top Echelon ($252,331), Community Therapy ($200,078) and EBS Healthcare ($90,650). The cost is up from $533,968 last year.
  Board member Kate Thommes asked why the district isn’t hiring in-house to which Satterwhite said “our first preference is to hire in-house,” but there’s a national shortage of occupational therapists.
  With Istation, the district is asking for $419,780 (education fund) to renew a contract of a “digital learning resource” that “follows a systematic linear path of structured lessons personalized to meet the literacy needs of each student,” according to the proposal. The cost is an increase from $305,460 last year.
  The board will vote on a contract renewal with One Hope United costing $357,500, to be paid for by Illinois taxpayers through a Preschool For All grant, to pay for preschool services rendered in the 2018-2019 school year.
  According to the proposal, 101 U-46 students were given “preschool services within a facility that offers extended day childcare to families. U-46 does not offer extended day childcare within the district’s preschool programs…. The subcontract paid for the salary and benefits of three teachers, three teacher assistants, facility expenses and materials.”
  The district is asking for a contract renewal costing $208,081 (federal grant funds), up from $103,500, with both Career Staff ($103,600) and Soliant ($104,481) for school psychology services.
  With Geneva Hearing Services, the district is asking to renew a contract costing $197,000 (federal grant funds) “for audiology and equipment relating to providing the program for the hearing impaired students,” the proposal states. The cost is up from $195,000 last year.
  The district is asking for $131,768 (education fund) for a contract renewal with Mind Research Institute for ST Math software, a math intervention. The cost is down from $149,643.
  Another math intervention resource contract renewal is with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt costing $75,000 (education fund) for FASTT Math software.
  The district claimed both math interventions showed data supports both after being piloted in the district, and Owens asked if the board could see the data.
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said that the data is “setup within the assessment office to evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions that we’re putting in place,” and Trisha Shrode, director of curriculum and instruction, said: “We could get that from the assessment department. We kind of separate ourselves so that we’re not the ones pulling that data.”
  “I’m confident that it did show the results that we were looking for,” Sanders said. “I just didn’t incorporate it into the report.”
  The district is asking for $128,937 (federal grant funds) for a contract renewal with Renaissance Services for STAR 360 for secondary literacy and libraries, an increase from $104,830.
  “Renaissance STAR 360 is used to support all identified students in U46 as a progress monitoring tool,” the proposal states.
  With Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the district is asking for a contract renewal costing $105,979 (federal grant funds) for Read 180/Systems44 resources. The cost is up from $86,249 in the 2018-2019 school year.
  Additionally, the district is asking for a $98,560 (federal grant funds) contract renewal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for professional development on the same resources. That cost is down from $119,638.
  A contract renewal with News-2-You costs $73,389 (federal grant funds) which the proposal states is a program that “serves students from kindergarten through high school (ages 5 to 22) that have mild to severe cognitive disabilities with IQs below 70 and include students who are English Language Learners.” The cost is up from $61,075.
  With Encyclopedia Britannica Online, the district is asking for a three-year contract renewal costing $72,735 (education fund) for the online research tool. The district spent $26,985 for the resource in the 2018-2019 school year.
  The district is asking for $40,850 (education fund), up from $39,100, for a contract renewal with TurnItIn, LLC for the literacy resource.
  “Turnitin provides teachers and students an electronic submission platform where students can receive immediate feedback from a combination of methods, including a peer review system, teacher feedback system, automated grammar feedback, and its signature originality checker and feedback system,” the proposal states.
  A contract renewal with SchoolPace: American Reading Company costing $25,000 (education fund) if approved. The proposal states: “SchoolPace is a platform for reading teachers to collect student reading data on a daily basis.”




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