First Construction Meeting
Summer 2019 Construction will begin in less than a month and our first meeting to discuss the project, meet the subcontractors, and the construction superintendent today confirmed many things like when construction will begin. With major projects this summer including two school roof replacements the contractors need as much time during the summer as possible to get the work done. Smaller projects like replacement of the second-grade wing steps and handrails, seven heating units at Stella May Swartz School and the district office renovation are challenging but not as time constrained.
The meeting held this morning include Dr. Correll, Dr. Evans, Manny Godinez, Juan Sandoval, Matthew Toepper, the FGM Architect, and Mike Kelly, the AMSCO Engineer along with Manusos General Contracting, Inc. Vice President and various subcontractors. Adler Roofing will be doing the two roofs. They did the roof replacement at Albright Middle School last summer. The same mason contractor will be working at Stella May Swartz and Salt Creek primary that worked last summer. The electrical and HVAC Mechanical contractors for the Summer 2019 are new to the district.
The General Contractor will install a temporary wall June 18th to separate the District Office and second floor North Wing where District Offices will be relocated. This will keep the District Office separated from the rest of AMS being used for the SASED Summer Program that begins July 1, 2019. Construction officially begins June 19th with substantial completion anticipated August 14, 2019 and final completion November 15, 2019.
The first payment request to be considered by the Board of Education with their regular June 19, 2019 bills is the cost of bonds required of the contractor by the school district. Construction runs from 6:30 AM to 3:00 PM each day Monday through Friday with no plans now for working Saturday or Sunday.
District Office Relocation Plans For Summer Construction Continue
Plans have been finalized for relocation of the district offices this summer. Construction of a temporary wall with door will separate the construction area from the SASED Summer School students and staff. The General Contractor hopes to have the wall and door installed the afternoon of June 18, 2019 after students and staff are out of the building.
The second-floor science rooms, 202 and 206, will be used by the contractor and subcontractors for storage of their construction materials and tools. The five remaining second floor classrooms, down from the district office, will be used for storage of classroom desks and setting up temporary offices for the superintendent, superintendent assistant, business office staff, and student services staff who will be relocated for two-months until summer construction work in the district office is completed.
Single Path ordered two ethernet switches to provide network connections for phones, computers, and copiers in rooms 208 and 209. The Superintendent and his assistant are housed separately in one classroom for privacy.
Room 201 will house Dr. John Correll and later Dr. Jake Chung and Tammy Clarke. Room 205 will be used as the relocated District Office Conference Room. Room 208 will house Lill Almeroth, Susan Nelson, Dr. Frank Evans and Manny Godinez. Room 209 will house Sharon Quinlan and later Laura Robertson and Jennifer Sabourin. Room 210 will be used for classroom student and teacher desk storage.
All visitors to the District Office will enter the Albright Middle School through the Villa Avenue Middle School South entrance to be greeted and cleared through the Raptor system.
When District auditors spend a week in the district they will be housed in the District Office Conference Room in Room 205. Weekly Thursday construction progress meetings will be held in the same conference room.
Summer Air To Remain On At AMS
The air conditioning at AMS will remain on throughout the summer. Last summer the A/C chiller and individual compressor units were taken off line because of the roof replacement. Many days temperatures exceeded 90 degrees making a very difficult work environment. The district purchased portable air conditioners for the offices which helped drop the temperatures into the low 80’s.
This summer the A/C will be off at times at Stella May Swartz due to roof replacement. We will send the portable air conditioners to the school. At Salt Creek Primary School the roof will also be replaced but the offices A/C will remain on during the roof replacement. Swartz office staff may move over to Salt Creek Primary School as needed during the anticipated hot summer should they find conditions unbearable.
School Consolidation Update
At the urging of the Senate Government Accountability and Pensions Committee, State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, met with stakeholders to discuss HB 3053, another effort at school consolidation.
The Illinois Association of School Administrators lobbyist was part of the meeting, and she is cautiously optimistic the legislation is off the table for this legislative session.
Tom Cullerton of Villa Park, IL proposed creating a 20-person task force to identify, before May 1, 2020, no less than 25 percent of school districts in Illinois that will be required to hold a referendum to consolidate in the next general election.
All of the various association, and the management alliance, opposed this legislation.
Sanders’ Education Plan Would Greatly Expand ED Budget
The Seventy-Four reports that Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I) “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education” “touches nearly every area of K-12 policy, from protections for LGBT students to teacher pay to special education, but perhaps what sticks out most of all is the huge increase in spending he proposes.” The plan “would cost an eye-popping amount of money – more than double the current budget.” In addition to one-time expenditures and expanded funding for other federal agencies, the plan “brings the total to an additional $74 billion a year for the Education Department. That would more than double its funding, currently about $71 billion a year, and doesn’t include any higher ed proposals, including Sanders’s free college plan, or any changes to early childhood programs.”
In a column for the National Review David French writes about bipartisan support for charter schools at the state level around the country, saying the charter movement has “granted an invaluable degree of educational choice to families who long lacked the flexibility that prosperous suburban and upper-middle-class parents take for granted, and its extraordinary growth is a bipartisan achievement.” French criticizes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for his announcement last week that “if elected president, he would declare war on charter schools,” saying that Sanders’ proposed restrictions would “remove many of the distinctive qualities that helped make charter schools truly competitive with conventional public schools.”
In a piece for Forbes Zak Ringelstein, a former teacher and the Democratic nominee for the 2018 Maine US Senate race, writes about the dearth of substantial K-12 policy proposals from presidential candidates over the past decade, contrasting this with Sanders’ proposal last week. Ringelstein writes that Sanders “listened to a public-school teacher (like, actually someone who has spent years teaching children in an American public school classroom) and released a policy based on that teacher’s ideas. And it appears that this teacher was me.” Ringelstein cites his own published writings and his past policy proposals regarding a $60,000 annual salary minimum for US teachers.
In a piece for the Nation sociologist and author Nikhil Goyal praises Sanders’ plan, calling it the “most progressive and equitable public-education agenda of any presidential candidate in the modern history of the United States. Sanders is making a clean break with a bipartisan consensus that has led to the dismantling of public education under successive Republican and Democratic administrations.” Goyal calls the plan “an unapologetic repudiation of the Betsy DeVos–Arne Duncan era of market-based school reform”
Renowned Chef Praises Fired New Hampshire Cafeteria Worker, Offers Her A Job
The Boston Herald reports, “She may have gotten fired over a free sandwich, but lunch lady Bonnie Kimball is being hailed as a hero by none other than renowned chef José Andrés, who has all but offered her a job.” In March, Kimball “got canned after giving lunch to a student whose account did not have enough in it to cover the food – even though the student paid up the next day.” A public outcry “ensued from parents, and several colleagues reportedly quit in protest after her firing.” Chef Andrés, “known for providing free meals to disaster survivors and those caught up in the federal government shutdown earlier this year, has no such problem with the press – and appeared to approve of Kimball’s ethics.” On Saturday “he called the ex-cafeteria worker a hero and offered her a job.”
New Chicago Mayor Keeps Incumbent Public Schools Chief
Chalkbeat reports, “Following weeks of speculation about how she’d fill senior leadership roles, Chicago’s new mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that she’ll retain homegrown schools chief Janice Jackson in the top job at Chicago Public Schools.” That decision “was largely expected” as Lightfoot “said during the campaign that she recognized the need for stability atop schools.” Chalkbeat says, “Until previous Mayor Rahm Emanuel named Jackson schools interim chief in December 2017 – she became permanent a month later – Chicago schools had been overseen by seven different schools chiefs in a span of five years.”
Property Tax Relief Becomes Sticking Point
The Senate sent over a limited property tax freeze with the constitutional amendment and a progressive income tax rates bill, but state Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, said there’s recognition there needs to be property tax relief. “A property tax freeze is burdensome on local governments, school districts,” Zalewski said. “Property tax relief can take many different permutations.”
What that relief would look like isn’t clear. Opponents of a progressive income tax said during a House committee hearing Monday that in order to address the state’s high property taxes, there must be pension reform as many local governments have said all of their share of property taxes are going to pay local police and fire pensions. There’s been no movement on a proposed constitutional amendment to reform pensions.
When it comes to the progressive tax rates, the governor proposed rates and the Senate passed a different rate structure. That measure remains in a House committee. Zalewski said the House's rates bill is still being hashed out. “But we also are being responsive to our colleagues who feel like they need something tangible in terms of property tax relief and we’re getting there,” Zalewski said. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said a progressive income tax with higher rates for higher earners will bring billions into the state’s coffers, helping shore up its troubled finances.
Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Maisch said when the governor unveiled his rates proposal that lawmakers should tie rates to the amendment so taxpayers know what to expect. Rates aside, Maisch said looking at tax increases first is the wrong approach. “Cutting and taxing can’t get the job done by itself, we do recognize that,” he said. “You do need to probably do both of those things, but the taxing should be the last component, not the first, but that’s what we’re leading with here today yet again sending a terrible message to job creators in this state.” Maisch and Republicans have said the state needs to capture more revenue through economic growth, not higher taxes.
Chiller At Stella May Swartz Still Not Working
Automated Logic Control finally admitted that they did not replace controllers damaged by flooding last summer that shorted out and did not reprogram other controllers to correctly operate the chiller. They are now doing the engineering and securing the controllers needed to make the system work. While the problems could have been with the internal components of the new chiller, or the installation of the new chillers but those potential problems have been ruled out. We were not able to start the chiller up this year. Hopefully before the next warm spell the chiller will be operating as designed. We have held up payment to the control contractor, mechanical contractor, and R.L. Sohol, the general contractor until the chiller issue is resolved and all of the other equipment has been commissioned (verified it is running as designed and specified).
Moody's Report Finds Illinois Not Ready For Recession
When the United States economy finally slows down and begins its slog through another economic downturn, Illinois will not be ready. Along with New Jersey, credit rating agency Moody’s said the two states are the only ones in the country ill-equipped to handle the financial stress of the next economic downturn. The agency graded states on fiscal reserves, financial flexibility as measured by fixed costs and revenue volatility. Illinois’ pension debt in ratio to revenue sources was the worst in the nation.
The state fares generally well in regard to volatility at the moment, but applying progressivity to the state’s income tax, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature proposal to pay the state’s bills, would introduce greater volatility. “If revenues declined to a degree equal to the worst one-year decline they had experienced in the past, they would not have enough reserves available to cover even half the shortfall,” the report said of Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and New York’s reserve funds. “They would have to rely on other tools, such as midyear spending cuts, revenue increases, or one-time measures like borrowing.”
Due to high federal debt loads, Moody’s predicts that states may not get as much assistance as they did during the Great Recession. “The economy will enter the next recession with less fiscal space than before the financial crisis. Thus, the next time the economy experiences a large negative shock that pushes it into a recession, concerns around the level of federal deficits and debt, in addition to a polarized political environment, may hinder adequate counter cyclical fiscal response at the federal level,” it said.
Quote For The Week
“Responsibility educates.” Wendell Phippips