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Operations & Business Services Newsletter February 12, 2020
Operations & Business Services Newsletter February 12, 2020
Dr. Frank Evans
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Ten Contractors Attend Mandatory Hygieneering, Inc. Pre-Bid Meeting For Window & Asbestos Removal This Summer Nine Bids Received February 12, 2020

Last week we had ten contractors attend a mandatory Pre-Bid Meeting called by Hygieneering, Inc. to provide drawings and specifications and conduct a tour to remove the windows and asbestos caulking at Stella May Swartz and Albright Middle School this summer. This work has to be done before new windows can be installed. Ideally the asbestos contractor will take the lead by removing the existing windows and caulking and will be followed immediately by the Robert Yiu, the contractor installing the new windows.

Finishing the window replacement work will complete the three years of repairs to our schools using the 2016 Repair Bond proceeds. Future repairs and building projects will come from the District Operations & Maintenance Fund. Tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2021 is replacement of the boilers, piping, and pumps at Stella May Swartz School which we hope will be partially paid for by a ISBE Maintenance Grant

We had nine bids ranging from a high of $302,000 to a low of $82,475 to do the work today. The lowest responsible bid, from High Efficiency, Chicago, IL of $82,475, is recommended by Hygieneering, Inc. to do the window and asbestos caulk removal work and will be presented to the Board of Education at their February 19, 2020 meeting. Hygieneering, Inc. has worked on many similar projects with this company.

Work Continues On Intergovernmental Agreement With District 45 to provide Food Service For Our School District

I have been working with Patricia Volling, my counterpart at District 45 (Villa Park),  Christina Smith, ISBE Nutrition Division, & Robbins Swartz, legal counsel from District 45 on the preparation of an Intergovernmental Agreement and collaboration on the Request For Bids to provide breakfast and lunch meal service. We have provided data regarding our food service operations last year and this year, provided by Arbor Management, Inc.

It is not known if Arbor, who also provides meal services to District 45, will submit a bid for the FY 2020-2021 school year that can be renewed four additional years. Arbor has managed both separate programs for the past five years including this year.

When we sought bids five-years ago we had six food service companies at the mandatory pre-bid meeting but only had three companies submit bids. Arbor Management, Inc. who provided food service when the district discontinued their own food service in 2004 had the lowest bid.

We sought bids after a terrible two-year stint with Preferred Meals, the company that prepackages meals and warms them up in convection ovens on site. Students and employees hated the meals dumping most of the meal in the garbage. Under Federal and State law school districts are required to accept the lowest bid that meets the specifications because there is Federal and State reimbursement to school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program. However, a district does not have to renew with a company and can instead seek bids to find a new provider. Ironically Preferred Meals attended the pre-bid meeting but did not submit a bid.

District Administration Working On Regional Office Of Education Audit/Compliance Preparation

Every four years all school districts in DuPage County are audited to confirm compliance with several rules and regulations both at the state and federal levels. While our district audit will not occur until the middle of March, preparations for the audit have been ongoing last month and continue this month.

Our department is responsible for providing Board of Education policies and District Handbook sections dealing with administration of school fee waivers. We also, are providing a list of bus drivers, their background checks, and bus driving permits of Richlee Vans and West Way Coach employees providing transportation services along with evidence of two-way radio checks at the beginning of the day and empty bus checks at the end of the day.

We also must confirm that the district has a pest management plan. Our plan, provided by Smithereen Exterminating, has been in place since 2007 in each school and the maintenance garage. We have sent copies of their original 2007 invoices to the DuPage Department of Public Health and have completed the Integrated Pest Management form and sent it to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Our pest treatments helps us to eliminate German, American, and Oriental Cockroaches, pavement ants, mice, and rats in our schools and the maintenance garage.

Principals will provide our department with a copy of their Fall Health Life Safety audit check lists from their respective fire departments. Each Fall a representative from the local fire department comes to each building to certify compliance with the Health Life Safety Code and the department provides a copy of their finding to each building principal.

Finally, our department will provide verification that the following are available on the district website: Annual budget, Contracts over $25,000, the 2019-2025 Professional Negotiation Agreement (PNA), 2018-19 School Report Cards from last October 2019 for each school and the district, and the salary/fringe benefit costs of administrators, teachers, and educational support employees. Many thanks to Dan De Chiara for his help getting all of this on our new district website!

When Teachers Are Tough Graders, Students Learn More

School Business Daily, (ASBO) reports a new study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute claims that students perform better on end-of-year standardized tests when their teachers are tough graders, and argues that the "mindset that says 'everybody gets a gold star' does more damage than good." Author Seth Gershenson, an associate professor at American University, studied a decade of 8th and 9th grade Algebra 1 course grades and end-of-course test scores in North Carolina public schools (the data was from 2006 to 2016.) He found that teachers with the highest grading standards increase their students' end-of-course scores on standardized tests by 16.9% of a standard deviation over teachers with the lowest grading standards. Even teachers who are in the middle with their grading standards are more effective than those with the lowest standards, the study found.

GATA Risk Assessment Filed For $50,000 ISBE Maintenance Grant

Dr. Chung and I received good news that our grant has advanced from the DuPage Regional Office of Education to ISBE.  As a result we completed the ISBE GATA Risk Assessment for the grant which is the final step for approval. After review by ISBE Dr. Chung will provide final authorization to the grant to be considered for award.

It is interesting that the roll out for this grant was segmented as work from ISBE progressed. First we had to wait for the application to become available with the directions. Next we had to wait for the GATA port to open up with directions. Of course that had to be completed prior to February 14, 2020 after receiving notification to complete the GATA Risk Assessment on February 6, 2020. Nothing like the state board waiting until the last minute.

Supplementing Classroom Tech With ‘Flow-On Investment’

Forbes contributor Nicholas Wyman argues that spending on classroom technology and STEM equipment is not enough in itself to skill up students for the jobs of the future, and that “flow-on investments” should be the norm. He defines this as sending teachers to professional development on how to use the tech, then harness their professional judgment about where and when to use it, with the aim of “hooking” students on a version of “citizen science.” He reports on a project in Kentucky involving the nonprofit group Dataseam, which has given over 26,000 workstations to participating schools. Students have benefited from more than $2.2 million in college scholarships, while nearly 8,000 technicians and educators have been trained to use the tech.

The Center Square reports with the debacle of the Iowa caucuses fresh in the minds of Illinois politicians, there’s bipartisan support to make the Land of Lincoln the first-in-the-nation primary. But that’s still just an idea at this point. Iowa Democratic Party officials say the delay in getting results from the first-in-the-nation caucuses Monday was because of a computer error. Regardless, it threw the primary process into disarray.

Illinois state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said Illinois should be first instead. “So put the complicated caucus system behind us,” Manar said. “Let’s find a state that’s more representative of the country as a whole and Illinois I think on all accounts is that state." Illinois’ population is culturally diverse and the state features not just major metropolitan areas but also rural areas.

State Rep. Dave Severin, R-Benton, said moving Illinois up in the national process may be worth looking at. “That might be something to consider,” Severin said. “But I tell you what else is encouraging to me is the state of Illinois finally is not the worst debacle in the United States. Iowa just took over.”

Illinois’ primary this year is March 17. Early voting begins Thursday.

The state moved the primary up to the first Tuesday of February in 2008 when Barack Obama was running in the Democratic primary. He was an Illinois U.S. senator and a former Illinois state senator. But Illinois moved the primary back to March in 2012. Manar said he is researching what it will take to move Illinois up in the national process. “It’s my understanding there’s a penalty for any state in terms of awarding delegates that go before Iowa and New Hampshire, I believe,” Manar said. “That’s the deterrence.” He said there may have to be some coordination between state law and private party rules to bump Illinois up.

While he says it’s an idea worth considering, Severin said Illinois has its own election issues to deal with, like the errors in Illinois Automatic Voter Registration Program. “We have got to get AVR correct,” Severin said. “Let’s be accurate to a fault rather than having it be a fault.”

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Update From Illinois Department Of Human Rights

Robbins Swartz reports on January 31, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") released long-awaited guidance on the Workplace Transparency Act ("WTA"), ending nearly six months of uncertainty for Illinois employers struggling to understand new requirements for workplace sexual harassment prevention training. 

The WTA introduced sweeping reforms to combat sexual harassment in Illinois workplaces, including an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA") requiring that all employers provide employees sexual harassment prevention training annually. Yet, when the WTA took effect on January 1, 2020, IDHR had yet to release its model training program. As such, Illinois employers could not be certain that their own sexual harassment training programs would satisfy the minimum (and ambiguous) standards of the WTA.

Notably, IDHR clarified the following compliance requirements:

  • Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to employees no later than December 31, 2020, and annually thereafter;
  • Employers must train all employees, regardless of their status (i.e., short-term, part-time or interns) or where they are assigned, if they interact with other employees in Illinois;
  • Employers are not required to train independent contractors but are strongly encouraged to do so;
  • Employers cannot rely on IDHR to certify training materials as compliant with the WTA;
  • Employers can rely on documentation provided by employees who received training with his or her previous employer but must ensure the training was IHRA compliant;
  • Employers must train new hires before December 31st of the year during which they are hired;
  • Employers are responsible for retaining a record of all trainings, which must be made available to IDHR upon request; and
  • Employers must compensate employees for any training conducted outside of regular working hours.

IDHR also announced plans to release its approved training program in February 2020. Given the continuing questions about what content employers should include in training programs to comply with the WTA, the release of IDHR's own program is expected to provide employers the necessary framework for moving forward.


Quote Of The Week

“Learning is not compulsory. Neither is survival.”  ~ Dr. W. Edwards Deming