D161 hears new plan for streaming tech, shifts asphalt repair project, settles lawsuit

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D161 hears new plan for streaming tech, shifts asphalt repair project, settles lawsuit

July 25, 2021 - 20:27
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Flossmoor School District 161 could get back to streaming its board of education meetings and more in the near future.

Superintendent Dana Smith pitched a streaming technology improvement plan to the district’s board of education on Monday, July 19, that would see the district pay $26,557 to Pentegra Systems for the tools to combine data streams to provide clear sounds and visuals for people streaming events such as the board meetings.

The item was presented for discussion only, but Smith verbally recommended moving ahead with the plan, which he said was approximately $4,500 cheaper than the previous audio/visual plan presented to the board and to be paid for with ESSER II funds. Smith has noted that community and staff participation “increased dramatically” during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the district first began streaming board meetings. But with a return to in-person meetings, the audio and video quality of the presentations “suffered tremendously” because of existing equipment.

Smith said he thinks pursuing better options for streaming going forward will aid the district’s transparency goals.

“It’s certainly a costly plan but, within the realm of this type of work, I think it is accurate, and it will do a lot for our community,” he said. “I think what we found is the participation and community reach is important on a number of levels.”
 

Board Secretary Christina Vlietstra asked about costs for closed captioning, a requirement for ADA compliance if videos are posted online by the district. Those costs, typically billed per minute, were not presented July 19, but Smith said he can bring figures to the board before approval.

“I would not recommend letting that hold us back,” Smith said. “It costs money, but I think it’s money well-spent.”

Waiting on asphalt
District 161 is planning to push a planned asphalt repair project for Flossmoor Hills and Heather Hill school grounds to next year, after the initial bid process did not go according to plan.

The school board already had approved sealcoating and asphalt repairs as non-bid items for this summer. The problem, according to Associate Superintendent Fran LaBella, is that nobody put in bids for the work, citing a shortage of manpower and delays in obtaining materials.

“Some people are very worried about making substantial completion, and so they did not bid on it,” LaBella said.

Because of that, the original mid-September completion date is being moved so the district can rebid the work in early October, approve it by November in hopes of scheduling the work for the first week of June 2022. LaBella said if the district project can end up as the first job on the bidder’s calendar for next summer, the work can still be completed before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
 
Leading up to that work, the district intends to take care of anything dangerous with in-house staff.

Board reaches settlement agreement with Kee Construction
The Flossmoor School District 161 Board of Education voted 6-0 to approve a settlement agreement with Kee Construction to complete a 2018 construction project process. The district is to pay $326,000 as the final payment for the project, per the agreement.

Board Member Misha Blackman was absent.

Kee “failed to meet the required substantial completion date” for two consecutive projects, which prompted the litigation, according to a report from the superintendent. Those were the 2017 Project District-Wide Life Safety Implementation and the 2018 Life Safety Implementation.

According to the settlement, complaints related to the 2017 project were settled and dismissed, but a dispute arose between Kee and District 161 regarding final payment for the 2018 project. In exchange for the final payment, Kee agreed to release a lien claim. The parties also said they will not do business together for a period of 10 years.