Lester: Suburban schools left holding bag for college entrance exams

  • SATs? ACTs? Suburban schools got to choose after Illinois left them footing the bill for the college entrance exams this year.

      SATs? ACTs? Suburban schools got to choose after Illinois left them footing the bill for the college entrance exams this year. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer/2013

 
 
Updated 5/23/2016 1:30 PM

Editor's note: This column has been update to clarify language regarding a former part-time College of DuPage employee's relationship with the selection of a presidential search firm.

School districts are left holding the bag this spring after being told by the state to switch over to giving high school juniors the SAT college entrance test, but without money to pay for it as Illinois enters its 11th month without a budget.

 

Depending on their finances and the attitudes of the families they serve, schools are handling it any number of different ways.

Barrington Unit District 220 paid about $40,000 for its 700 juniors to take the ACT test and plans to switch to the rival SAT next school year, giving families more time to get used to the change, director of assessments Ben Ditkowsky tells me.

"The state has really let everybody down," he says of the failure to pay for the tests.

Elgin Area School District U-46 CEO Tony Sanders says the district paid out of pocket to give the SAT to all 2,800 juniors at a cost of $95,200. Sanders says the district paid another $43,000 for those who also wanted to take the ACT.

Northwest Suburban High School District 214 contracted with the ACT, with the ability to rescind the contract if the state chose to fund the SAT. It spent $110,000 on the tests.

The tests

We broke the news earlier this year that the College Board -- the testing company that provides the SAT college entrance exam -- submitted a winning bid to test 143,000 Illinois high school students annually over the next three years.

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The SAT scored higher than the ACT on a number of criteria, including cost. State officials estimate the test would cost $4.7 million a year during the three-year contract, about $33.30 per student. That's almost $1.4 million less per year than the ACT, at $39.50 to $56.50 per exam, depending on whether students take a writing component.

Wait till next year

Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Laine Evans says the goal was to have high schools administer the SAT this spring to all 11th-grade students, but that couldn't happen without a budget. "We continue to negotiate a contract with the College Board to give the SAT exam to all 11th-grade students and are hopeful that a fiscal year 2017 budget will be in place to finalize plans for a spring 2017 administration," she writes.

Streamwood High School freshman Ava Sumoski helps paint a base coat on a donated piano that will be positioned outside the school for anyone to play.
  Streamwood High School freshman Ava Sumoski helps paint a base coat on a donated piano that will be positioned outside the school for anyone to play. - Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer
Weatherized tunes

I was delighted to learn during a recent chat with Principal Ariel Correa that Streamwood High School will be adding to its popular community piano program. In addition to the bright-colored upright stationed in the school cafeteria for anyone to play, another will be added on the parkway outside. What about those inevitable showers and snowstorms? The piano was weatherized during the school's April 23 Comcast Cares volunteer day, Correa says.

Schaumburg Business Association President Kaili Harding
Schaumburg Business Association President Kaili Harding
Business women

The Schaumburg Business Association is having success with its women-only business networking events, SBA President Kaili Harding tells me. The organization's annual women's golf outing set for May 23 at Schaumburg Golf Course sold out more than two months ago, she said. "I felt like we had a lot more women golfers in the association than were showing up at the annual golf classic," Harding said. Her hunch was right. The association also is booked up on hole sponsors as well as all-male caddie volunteers, which this year will include members of the Schaumburg Boomers, village officials and Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center CEO Ray Kadkhodaian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Conflicting emotions

Imagine the pride you'd feel in seeing a nephew drafted to the NFL ... and the accompanying cringe that would follow once you realized he was drafted to the Chicago Bears' archrival, the Green Bay Packers.

That's what former Daily Herald editorial page editor Colleen Thomas of Rolling Meadows is going through after nephew Kyle Fackrell -- a Utah State linebacker -- was picked in the draft's third round. "Now, looking for advice on how a Chicago girl is to alter her allegiance to the hometown team," she says.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, left, with new daughter Sonia and wife Priya
Raja Krishnamoorthi, left, with new daughter Sonia and wife Priya - Courtesy of Raja Krishnamoorthi
Today's snap

Congratulations to Democratic candidate for Congress Raja Krishnamoorthi and wife Priya on the birth of their first daughter and third child last week. Sonia Krishnamoorthi joins older brothers Vikram and Vijay. Raja faces Republican Peter DiCianni, a DuPage County Board member, in the race for the 8th District in November.

New College of DuPage President Ann Rondeau spoke at a public forum last month at the Glen Ellyn campus.
  New College of DuPage President Ann Rondeau spoke at a public forum last month at the Glen Ellyn campus. - Paul Michna | Staff Photographer
Club coincidence?

Newly appointed College of DuPage President Ann Rondeau is a member of the Union League Club of Chicago. So is William Hay, the president of the search firm hired by the college, and Chris Robling, the former part-time, temporary employee who had some sway in the search process and the hiring of William Hay.

• Got a comment or tip? Email Kerry at klester@dailyherald.com or reach her at (847) 427-4603.

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