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Expenditure proposals set for District U-46 vote

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 is set to vote on $2.8 million in expenditure proposals at its upcoming meeting on Monday, July 20.
  The items were presented at the June 15 meeting which was held electronically due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
  The highest costing proposal is a three-year contract renewal at $1.2 million, to be paid for by the nation’s taxpayers through grant funds if approved, for a literacy resource with Istation. The annual cost is $396,931 which is below last year’s cost of $419,780.
  “The proposed Istation digital learning resource follows a systematic linear path of structured lessons personalized to meet the literacy needs of each student that addresses all essential elements of reading as well as auditory comprehension and written communication,” the proposal states.
  The district is asking for $544,124 for a contract renewal with CAN for its property insurance policy and $282,230 with Star Insurance Company for workers’ compensation excess coverage, both to be paid for out of the tort fund.
  For property coverage, the cost is an increase from $419,747 and for workers’ compensation it jumps from $262,748. On property, the proposal states the “increase is due to our assessed property value which has risen” by $247.5 million and for workers’ compensation “due to the increase in estimated payrolls for the upcoming year” as the district plans to continue adding staff despite enrollment continuing to decline.
  Board member John Devereux called it a “significant value increase” to which Bruce Phelps, senior business official, said a property evaluation process occurs every 10 years.
  With Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the district is asking for $238,147 (federal grant funds) for a contract renewal for Read 180 and System 44 resources and a year of professional development. The cost is up from $233,564 but the district claims savings of $62,238 due to the resource renewal being for four years.
  Board member Melissa Owens asked if the district can meet its literacy goals with the resource through distance learning. Veronica Ryan, coordinator of secondary literacy and libraries, said the shutdown hampered efforts this school year but “we will hopefully meet those goals” in the future.
  A contract renewal with Geneva Hearing Services will cost $197,000 (federal grant funds), the same as last year, for “audiology services and equipment relating to providing the program for hearing impaired students,” the proposal states. Sue Kerr, the board’s president, asked if the services will be provided despite COVID-19 to which Superintendent Tony Sanders said Geneva will be working while following Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
  Costing $120,786 (federal grant funds), the district is asking for a contract renewal with News-2-You/Unique Learning System for resources used with students “identified with mild to severe cognitive disabilities,” the proposal states.
  With Northwest Illinois Association, the district is seeking a $68,872 (federal grant funds) contract renewal for hearing and vision supervision services.
  Costing $68,550 (federal grant funds), the district is asking for a contract renewal with Richard Van Acker for behavior consultancy. It is up from $68,250.
  Sanders said this is “specifically, to address the disproportionality of identification of students with special needs, black male students specifically.”
  Owens said that the “data is difficult to get at” and asked for anecdotal feedback on if the restorative practices and cultural competency consultant is helping. She said this is the third year of the contract and would like to see more “concrete” information.
  Josh Carpenter, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said he has done “informal data gathering” and “we received very good feedback from our staff.”
  With Solid Professor, the district is seeking a three-year contract costing $47,250 to be paid for by the state’s taxpayers through an Illinois grant.
  It is for an online resource which “gives students authentic hands-on learning for various industry aligned software,” the proposal states.
  Owens asked if it can be used at home which Tracy Stewart, coordinator of career and technical education, said it can and allows for more in-depth projects. Stewart said: “We were actually looking to pursue this as a supplemental resource prior to COVID.”

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