With guest blogger Ashley Heard*
Many school districts and institutions of higher education use two-way radios for campus security, athletics, bus transportation, and facilities management. New FCC mandates require that all such radio systems be “narrowbanded,” or made to operate on channel bandwidths no bigger than 12.5kHz, by January 1, 2013. “Narrowbanding” is a process of updating radio technology so that it is more efficient.
In order to comply with the “narrowbanding” mandate, all radios must be either reprogrammed or replaced. Additionally, the corresponding FCC licenses must be updated to reflect the radios’ new mode of operation. The good news for schools is that most radio technology made after 1997 can be reprogrammed to operate in 12.5kHz. Moreover, there is no FCC fee for updating the corresponding licenses. Equipment made prior to 1997 and any equipment made thereafter that cannot be reprogrammed will have to be replaced.
Any systems that are not “narrowbanded” and properly licensed by January 1, 2013 are subject to license revocation and fines of up to $10,000 a day. Additionally, noncompliant systems may experience interference or be taken off the air entirely.
Radio users who worry they won’t meet the January 1, 2013 deadline may request a waiver. However, the FCC has indicated an unwillingness to grant waivers and the request process is lengthy. Thus far, at least one organization operating in the Illinois education space, First Student, a school bus provider, has received a waiver [pdf]. First Student has until January 1, 2014 to “narrowband.” The lesson for school and district leaders is to ensure they are on track to meeting the January 1, 2013 deadline and, if not, request a waiver immediately.
Overall,Illinoisradio users are making strong progress toward meeting the “narrowbanding” mandate. Under 20% of radio transmitters in the state remain noncompliant.
Looking toward the future, the FCC plans to undergo additional “narrowbanding.” Radio users should expect to “narrowband” from 12.5kHz to 6.25kHz though the FCC has not set a timeline for this second round of “narrowbanding.” School and district leaders would be wise to plan early for impending “narrowbanding” mandates.
* Ashley Heard, a law student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, is Franczek Radelet’s Fall 2012 education practicum student.
With guest blogger Scott Metcalf
There is confusion and concern about how school districts should handle receiving nominating petitions and objections to petitions for the 2013 school board elections. The Election Code says that school board nominating petitions must be filed between December 17 and 24, 2012. Objections to nominating petitions must be filed within five business days after December 24.
Many school districts intend to be closed at some point during the weeks of December 24 and December 31 (which both fall on Mondays this year). But, the law says certain things and doesn’t say others.
First, while the Election Code requires the office in which petitions are filed to remain open until at least 5:00 p.m. on December 24, the law does not specify how long the offices must be open before 5:00 p.m. In our opinion there is no legal requirement that the office be open for a specific number of hours, only that it be open until 5:00 p.m. Second, nothing requires a school district to open its offices on the five business days after December 24 (i.e., December 26-28, December 31, and January 2). One Illinois Appellate Court has held that the relevant business days for determining when objections are due are the regular business days of the public body that accepts the nominating petitions. The business days of the State Board of Elections would not be relevant for school districts. Thus, a school district could be closed on December 31, but would have to accept objections for one additional day (i.e., the last day for accepting objections would be January 3 instead of January 2). (more…)
With guest blogger Maria Mazza
The Illinois Prevailing Wage Act requires public bodies to pay all laborers, workers and mechanics performing work for a public works contract at least the prevailing rate of wages. If the Department of Labor (DOL) revises the prevailing rate of wages, the public body must apply the revised rate and provide notice of the change to the contractor and each subcontractor working on a public works contract.
A recent amendment to the Prevailing Wage Act, Public Act 97-0964 provides that public bodies may now provide the required notice regarding revisions in the prevailing wage rate by inserting a provision in the contract that states that the prevailing wage rates are revised by the DOL and available on its website. Thus, public bodies would not be required to provide notice every time the DOL revises a rate. Instead, the provision in the contract serves as the required notice.
Given this recent amendment, public bodies should include such a provision in all public works contracts.