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ACE increased funding reviewed by U-46 board

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 was given an update on the Alignment Collaborative for Education (ACE) at its meeting on Monday, Sept. 9. Board member Eva Porter was absent from the meeting.
  ACE was founded in 2013 under former Superintendent Jose Torres and is comprised of government and business entities within U-46. The original intent was that the organization would be solely funded by private fundraising, but U-46 is the largest annual funder for ACE.
  Nancy Coleman, ACE’s executive director, said that the group’s mission is the same as when it started.
  “There were three primary focus areas for alignment,” Coleman said. “One is early education preparation, the second one is looking at elementary, middle and high school trauma informed care and the third one is educational pathways to post-secondary careers.”
  Peter Sikorski, ACE’s current chair, said in 2017 that the organization was designed as a way to tell the public what its could do to serve U-46 rather than how the government body can serve the taxpayers who fund it.
  “It was a combination of government organizations, civic organizations and the business community really all coming together to say ‘what does U-46 need of the community to have broad community support?’ To me, that was much different than an organization looking to tell U-46 what to do,” Sikorski, then ACE’s vice chair, said at the time.
  The board doubled its funding to ACE last year from $25,000 to $51,000 while the group is now budgeting for another $51,000 contribution from U-46 this year. A presentation and vote dates for the funding have not yet been set.
  ACE intended to ask for $60,000 this year as referenced by Sue Kerr, the board’s president, as she asked why the increase was being asked.
  A memo stated that ACE wanted the $9,000 increase because the annual career expo it hosts for students was “having an evening and day event this year,” which increased the cost by $2,500 to $3,000. ACE expected this year’s event to cost $11,000 total compared to $8,000 last year.
    ACE’s presentation stated that 28 percent of its funding comes from U-46 with an additional 16 percent from other government entities. It’s budget from July of 2018 through June of 2019 showed $182,538 in expenses with the largest portion being salaries and wages, $120,469, primarily to Coleman, while this year’s budget has $204,075 in spending, $142,885 going to salary expenses.
  In 2016, U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said “this is all paid for through fundraising” but a “portion to kick it off from U-46” was provided at the start. In 2017, ACE asked for $25,000 a year for three years but the U-46 board opted for one year citing little transparency, and the board then provided $51,000 in 2018.
  In 2017, Kerr said: “I would support a one-year because my concern with ACE in the past has been, they’ve done the curriculum fair, but it has not always been clear to me what else they have accomplished.”
  Until recently, ACE didn’t provide budget data to the board. In 2017, the district didn’t know how much ACE’s executive director made when asked prior to a presentation by former board member Jeanette Ward. A memo stated: “Administration is unaware of the Executive Director’s salary.”
  At the Sept. 9 meeting, Coleman stated that ACE received a grant for books which she valued at $70,700. She said $25,000 worth of books went to U-46 and the rest to other organizations.
  Coleman said ACE launched a summer reading pilot program at Cornerstone and Izaak Walton parks in Elgin through $7,500 in funds from Elgin Township. She said a $11,900 grant through Kane County Fit for Kids was received to hold an event at Festival Park in Elgin for promotion of early education and community wellness.
  The number of schools with trauma informed care teams increased from five to 26 over the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years according to Coleman, and the number of students served under educational pathways and work-based learning, such as attendance at the career expo, has increased from over 1,1000 to over 6,000.
  Kerr said that “there’s a lot of Elgin focus” and “I sometimes worry that Bartlett and Streamwood, I don’t see them as involved.”
  “Actually, we have put a good bit of work-based learning into Bartlett,” Coleman said. She said Bartlett High School’s academy students have a 40-hour internship requirement, and ACE has helped secure some internships for students.
  The Village of Bartlett has held a summer internship the past two summers in collaboration with ACE.




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