Tag: Todd Drafall

D209 Administrators Get Slight Pay Raises

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

During a June 12 regular meeting, the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 school board voted 5-2 to approve salary raises for district administrators. The pay increases ranged from 0.5 percent to 4.5 percent, depending on an employee’s classification.

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D209 Contemplating Replacing The Indoor Track At Proviso West

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: The Proviso West High School indoor track could be completely replaced before the start of the next indoor track and field season. | Runnerspace.com 

The indoor track at Proviso West High School, 4701 Harrison St. in Hillside, could get a complete overhaul soon.

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2 High-Ranking D209 Administrators Resign, 1 May Come Aboard

Monday, April 9, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 04/10/18

Featured image: Dr. Kim Waller-Echols, left, and Todd Drafall. | File 

Two top administrators at Proviso Township High Schools District 209 have resigned recently.

District officials confirmed this week that Dr. Kim Waller-Echols, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources, and Todd Drafall, the district’s chief financial officer, have both submitted letters of resignation.

Continue reading “2 High-Ranking D209 Administrators Resign, 1 May Come Aboard”

D209 To Start Bidding For Food Service

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: A photo of a meal on Aramark’s website. | Aramark 

Efforts by Proviso Township High Schools District 209 officials to get rid of Aramark Education Services as the company responsible for feeding district students who qualify for free breakfast and lunch have picked up steam, with a document recently released by the district indicating that they could find another food service provider by June.

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Disgusted With Aramark, D209 Explores Its Food Options

Saturday, November 25, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywodnews 

Featured image: A bruised pear served by Aramark at a school in Chicago. | Celeste Hernandez/The School Lunch Project via The Huffington Post 

Proviso Township High Schools District 209 is exploring the feasibility of cutting ties with its food service provider, Aramark Education Services, as complaints of molded and spoiled food pile up.

Continue reading “Disgusted With Aramark, D209 Explores Its Food Options”

D209 Food Service, Asbestos Bids Approved Amid questions

Proviso East HighTuesday, June 21, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || By Jackie Glosniak

Despite questions surrounding the quality of the food service provided for the Proviso Township High Schools, the school board voted 4-3 to renew the district’s food service contract with Aramark Educational Services LLC at the District 209 Board of Education meeting on June 14.

The district entered into a contract with Aramark on July 1, 2015 as a one-year agreement with the option to renew for an additional four years, with this year’s renewal being the first. With the board’s vote to renew, there will be a fee increase from Aramark of 0.7 percent. The approval for the additional year of service has a cost not to exceed $1.5 million.

Prior to the board’s narrow approval of Aramark’s renewal, board member Claudia Medina expressed her concern that the board should exercise caution when approving a food service that she has heard students are not fond of.

“I can’t sit here and approve some food service that the kids find disgusting and they’re hungry at the end of the day,” Medina said.

Proviso Chief Financial Officer Todd Drafall responded that the school is aware of dissatisfaction among students and staff and will respond to the vendor accordingly.

“We sent a very clear message that they need to step up their game,” Drafall said. “If, by November, we don’t see any improvement, we give them notice and start the [vendor search] process.”

Medina disagreed and expressed concern that continuing subpar service would be a waste of money. She urged the board to postpone the approval and research other companies as neighboring districts have done in recent years.

“I don’t understand why our district can’t do it when other districts can,” she argued. “Other districts in Illinois do it and turn it around in a month.”

Board President Teresa McKelvy said that for now, the district cannot go without having a food service provider and would give Aramark proper notice should quality suffer.

“We’re not disagreeing with you, but what we’re saying is we will approve this for now because we need this to happen right now and then we will go out for bid,” said McKelvy, noting that in the fall, the board would revisit the contract and student and staff reviews on the food and, if needed, would move forward with a request for proposals process.

Asbestos abatement

At the meeting, board members were also asked to approve asbestos abatement bids for Proviso East and West.

According to the D209 Buildings and Grounds Department, the district is planning on having 20,000 additional square feet of asbestos removed at both campuses at a cost of approximately $10 per square foot.

Several board members had questions regarding the approval, with many wondering when asbestos abatement in the district would come to an end.

“Are there any pictures for East and West to show how much you’ve done, what area you’ve done this in and also what’s left to do so that we can finish this? This has been costing us a lot of money,” board member Theresa Kelly asked.

Building manager Ronald Anderson said the department will produce documents for the board depicting the exact areas where asbestos has been removed and what areas still have a heavy concentration needing removal for safety purposes.

“We try to do as much at one time because of high costs,” Anderson said.

He added that the district has followed county regulations every time abatement occurs and having air quality professionals check out the campuses before staff and students are admitted back to the buildings.

Anderson also said that when a small fire occurred a few years back at Proviso East, some unexpected abatement costs occurred during that time.

Board member Kevin McDermott agreed with board members that abatement seems to be never-ending.

“As I recall during the fire, every time we opened up a wall or ceiling there was stuff we didn’t expect, like windows [with asbestos],” he said. “Realistically, is there an end or do we keep discovering this stuff because at the time these schools were built this was the miracle material?”

Given the age of the buildings, Anderson said, there might never be an end at Proviso East of totally abating all asbestos and that it may be a continuing operational cost.

The board carried the motion to accept the superintendent’s recommendation to approve the lowest asbestos abatement bid from Husar Abatement in Franklin Park at a cost not to exceed $175,908. VFP

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Chronicle: Proviso D209 Board Never Approved $7 Million Fire Repair Bills, Say Lawyers

ProvisoEastFriday, May 6, 2016 || Originally Published: Cook County Chronicle || By Jean Lotus and Bill Dwyer

A lawsuit against the Proviso Township High School District 209 School Board contains evidence that both the current school superintendent and the former board president signed a multi-million dollar building repairs contract without the knowledge or formal approval of the school board.

The district hired Franklin Park-based Restore Construction to clean up and renovate after a three-alarm electrical fire damaged 10 rooms of Proviso East High School at 807 N. First Ave. in Maywood on May 10, 2014. Almost a year later, the work was still not complete. Restore stopped work in April, 2015 after the school district’s insurance company raised questions about billing for the work.

Restore, run by brothers Patrick and Michael Santoro, has numerous political connections, including to former D209 Board President Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico.

Contained in the lawsuit filings are documents from the insurer, which alleges Restore engaged in “bait-and-switch” conduct with “the clear intent” of misleading the insurer on amounts billed for their restoration work.

Documents show the contract for fire remediation, labeled with the hand-written word “Emergency” at the top, was signed in haste within days of the fire. District 209 Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart and Chief Financial Officer Todd Drafall retained Restore without any approval by the school board.

Dan Adams, who was board president in May 2014 at the time of the fire, subsequently signed an amendment to the contract on Aug. 12, giving Restore wide latitude in dealing with the insurance company. That action, despite being taken nine weeks after the fire, was also undertaken without either the knowledge or approval of the school board.

School board presidents have no legal authority to authorize large payments on behalf of a school district without a formal vote by the school board, according to Illinois school law.

Further compounding the district’s current problems, no surety bond was acquired for the reconstruction work, leaving the district liable for any additional charges. The district could well find itself on the hook for $1.86 million plus interest.

Restore filed suit last October against District 209 and the insurance company for breach of contract. The suit names Adams, Collins-Hart, Business Manager Drafall, and Principal Tony Valente individually for simple fraud and breach of contract.

Attorneys for the school district have responded that the contract imposes no legal liabilities on D209 because Collins-Hart had no legal authority to enter into contracts over $25,000, and Adams had no personal authority to sign any documents without the express approval of the school board as a whole.

On Aug. 12, Adams on his own approved the district to not only pay Restore any amounts the insurance company might refuse to pay, but also pay Restore’s legal bills in case of a lawsuit. The amended contract also granted Restore power of attorney, allowing the contractor to act in the stead of district administrators “with respect to signing, approving, authorizing and endorsing” various documents “necessary to satisfy Contractor’s claim for payment …”

Restore contends that work it did was conducted on an emergency basis due to the need to re-open the building for the 2014-15 school year.

Traveler’s Indemnity Company, the school district’s insurer, which paid out more than $5.5 million to Restore, accused the company of engaging in “bait and switch” billing and using a significantly higher pay standard for workers than it had agreed to in negotiations. The Insurance company alleges Restore agreed to “prevailing industry wages” but then billed using “Prevailing Wage” pay rates routinely adopted by most governmental entities.

Traveler’s attorney, Matthew S. Ponzi, alleged that during a July 8, 2014 teleconference, Restore gave a repair cost estimate of $4.2 million. That cost would balloon to more than $7 million.

“The rates charged by Restore’s field labor and project management team have not been agreed to,” Ponzi wrote in a memo.

In June 2015, after work stopped, Restore Carpentry Foreman Steve Searle told the school board in public comments that labor costs were high because the only way to get quality workers was to pay prevailing union wage.

“We solicited bids from firms that were not union, that did not pay prevailing wages, but those firms were not able to respond with resources necessary to complete a fast-track project,” Searle told the board.

Searle also said Restore had turned in all paperwork for subcontractors, but still the insurance company had stopped payment.

But in the lawsuit, a third-party administrator, Madsen, Kneppers & Associates, (MKA) conducted an audit of Restore’s payment submissions and found them to be incomplete.

Some subcontractors named in Restore’s paperwork were not union shops. MKA found instances where sub-contractors’ liens indicated they had been paid tens of thousands of dollars less than Restore billed the district for their work.

MKA also stated that a previously agreed to 6 percent overhead and 6 percent profit margin were raised to 10 percent each without any discussion with the insurer.

The Santoro brothers, and their companies Restore Construction and Restore Restoration have donated heavily to local political figures. That includes $10,334 to Chris Welch since February 2012. Over the last 11 years the firm has also given $16,000 to Melrose Park mayor Ron Serpico and $39,595 to Cicero Town President Larry Dominick.

In the April 2105 elections, Restore also donated thousands to several Cook County school board race campaigns alongside D209’s former law firm, Del Galdo Law Group. VFP

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