Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Schuster Finds Time to Give TV Interview, But Did She Find Time to Accompany Her Staff to National Louis University?

Below is Dr. Schuster's daily update. Her email, along with what she said during an interview she gave today to ABC Local News for their 6 p.m. broadcast, indicates that next Monday (February 3) is still the target date to reopen Hinsdale Middle School.

Click to open 1/29/14 ABC Local News coverage.

There is a question circulating in the community about whether while Dr. Schuster found time to participate in the on camera interview, did she not accompany central administrators, teachers and local fire and police officials to National Louis University in Lisle,  where they continued planning for a possible relocation of HMS? Her email references a "team" of district staff who went to visit the alternate location, but is silent on whether she was part of the team.

If it is true that she did not accompany her staff, the question becomes WHY NOT? As concerned parents, we expect Dr. Schuster to be actively involved in every aspect of planning such a move. In our opinion, unless she is physically present to tour the facilities at National Louis University, she will be unable to properly assess all the possible issues that might arise.

Her absence from continuous onsite involvement throughout the HMS crisis was also evident during Monday's board meeting. She had almost nothing to say, deflecting almost all substantive questions about the remediation work to board members or other central administrators. Based upon what was said during the board meeting, we question whether she was even in town last weekend, while the around the clock mold remediation and asbestos testing continued at HMS.  During the board meeting, President Turek and Member Clarin made a point of naming D181 staff and board members who had toured the school last weekend. Her name was notably absent from this list.  We are quite certain that after all the criticism that has been directed at her, had she actually gone to HMS last weekend, it would have been pointed out during the meeting.  It was not.

Dr. Schuster is responsible for overseeing all aspects of D181's day to day operations. During a facilities crisis unlike any the district has experienced in years, the community has a right to expect the superintendent to personally oversee all the work done at HMS and at the relocation site. The superintendent is responsible for making the hard decisions. She is the leader. She cannot continue to delegate onsite responsibilities to her staff.

Perhaps concerned community members will seize the opportunity at Friday's CHMS/HMS basketball game to ask her about all of this.  Her email today made sure to inform everyone that she will be there.  We guess she wants to leave everyone with the impression that by showing up for a sporting event at 4:45 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, she is "in town," actively involved, onsite and visible. We're just not buying it.

Dr. Schuster's Email:

"January 29, 2014

Dear District 181 Community,

This is your daily update on progress at Hinsdale Middle School. The science labs, which were among the most affected classrooms, are looking much like they did at the time of winter break. Furniture is back in position and the floor surface has been laid; it will take several days to dry. The ductwork cleaning continued today. The HVAC system is turned off, and the building is being heated by equipment stationed outside the school. District staff members are providing 24-hour coverage in HMS to monitor the temperature and building conditions with the SERVPRO staff.

We continue to review our timeline, knowing our first priority is ensuring student and staff safety when they return. We also want to allow the HMS staff to come in the building in advance of students so they can do any needed preparation in their rooms. We are asking families and staff to be ready for instruction at either HMS or CHMS on Monday. We hope to confirm the building opening tomorrow evening, at which time environmental testing should be the only major phase not completed.

In the meantime, we continue to develop contingency plans in the event that an unforeseen complication causes a significant delay. To that end, a team of District staff and members of our Hinsdale Fire and Police Departments met at National Louis University today to continue the collaborative planning to utilize their Lisle campus. Again, this is only a contingency plan and is still in development. The Board has made no decisions confirming use of the space, as we believe HMS will be ready Monday or Tuesday based on our most current information.

We encourage the community to join us for CHMS vs. HMS boys basketball games at CHMS this Friday, January 31 beginning at 4:45 p.m. I hope to see you there as we cheer on the Eagles and the Spartans!

Dr. Renée Schuster


Outraged HMS Parent said...

Read Schuster's email carefully because it looks like she is subtly suggesting that HMS might not reopen until Tuesday and that parents at both schools should be prepared to continue split shifts on Monday, in order "to allow HMS staff to come in the building in advance of students so they can do any needed preparation in their rooms." WHY DOES THE COMMUNITY HAVE TO READ EACH WORD SCHUSTER SPITS OUT AND ANALYZE THEM FOR ANY HIDDEN MEANING?

Is she kidding? Teachers -- and not all of them -- were only allowed back at HMS for a very brief time to retrieve items before the split shifts at CHMS started. I doubt very much that there is much that they will need to do to bring their items back. But after all of the inconvenience suffered by students, parents and staff at CHMS who had to report to school by 7 am. during the split shifts, is it too much to ask that Schuster direct the teachers to show up early on Monday morning to quickly "prepare their rooms" before students show up at 7:50?

The rooms might not be 100%; certainly SERVPRO has already said that the rooms will not be painted and baseboards will not be back up yet, but FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T DELAY the reopening of HMS one minute beyond the "tour" on Sunday and the "all clear" signal from Integrity Environmental Services.

Only a stupid, stupid superintendent would further test the patience of parents and students!

The Parents said...

Outraged HMS Parent:

You raise a good point. HMS should reopen the second that the "all clear" is sounded. But even if Schuster wants to give HMS teachers some time to get their rooms ready, how much do they actually need? Why can't she Schuster ask them to bring their stuff back on Sunday when they tour the school. In light of the concerns they raised at the beginning of the crisis, we'd be surprised if there were any teachers who don't tour the school on Sunday. Even if teachers need to be compensated for "working" on Sunday night, isn't that better than keeping the students from a full day of school on Monday? We can't imagine any taxpayers who would object to this extra compensation being offered to the HMS teachers.

If that isn't an option due to some unknown School Code regulation, or because "someone" might be out of town, again on Sunday, at a a minimum, if HMS teachers need any kind of time, have them go to HMS on Monday morning and then run the buses to HMS, for classes there on Monday afternoon. That way students at CHMS can go to school for a full day, and HMS students will be back in their home school as well, even if only for 1/2 day.

If Schuster is suggesting that the teachers would need more time than one morning to get ready back at HMS, is she also suggesting that the afternoon split shift at CHMS will be taught by substitute teachers? That too would be "stupid."

Guess we'll have to wait and see how she plays this card.

Anonymous said...

I share the outrage of the HMS parent. The whole situation at HMS is a travesty and it must remain front and center. It cannot be ignored and it must to remedied ASAP. Having said that, the Turek FOIA reveal yesterday was HUGE. I am concerned that Turek's hypocrisy will simply get lost in the comments of a previous post. Would the bloggers consider making it a free standing post?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the students at HMS/CHMS have got to get back to a normal school routine ASAP! This has gone on long enough and these children are losing valuable instruction time. Get the all clear and get the kids back in class.

And I agree with the comment above....the bloggers should consider a freestanding post regarding the information revealed about Marty Turek and FOIAs

Anonymous said...

As the CPA mother of a 7th grader at CHMS, I couldn't help but look across the room at Monday's board meeting and add up the annual run rate of D181 administrative salaries in attendance - about $1 million per year

In the private sector, overhead salary costs of $1 million per year in a service business (say like like DeVry to make a comparison) would be expected to deliver commensurate economic value of $3 million to $5 million per year.

The D181 Overhead executives contribute nowhere near that value and quite likely, upon closer scrutiny, are likely to be costing D181 rather than adding any value at all.

With HMS "red tagged" and not being occupied due to a foreseeable event is clear evidence of gross negligence.

Accordingly, there needs to be an emergency manager appointed by the state to supervise Schuster and her executive overhead as well as the board until fiscal and financial responsibility is returned to D181

Anonymous said...

Children need to back in school asap. Although I do not have any middle school children, I fully support paying the teachers to be at school on Sunday night. But the money to pay them should be docked from the paycheck of Dr. Schuster and all other employees/administrators/contractors who allowed this unresolved leaky roof/mold issue to go unchecked for years. The teachers have been working SO hard with this huge inconvenience and they did not deserve it! OUR CHILDREN did not deserve it. Parents and community members were paying hefty taxes to D181 people to ensure a healthy and safe environment for our children, yet no one was doing the work!

So much damage did not happen in a few short weeks. It has been occurring over years and years. And now we are learning that over 80% of teachers have been complaining about mold and allergies for years and years to administrators, yet the board was never told? Shocking. Does the union have any evidence of this? Please correct me if I have my figures and facts wrong. Why should the taxpayers have to pay extra hours for the lack of supervision of our facilities? This was not simply an accident or "an act of God". This was pure negligence! We put faith in our administrators to have quality buildings and educational programs, but they are so scattered in their pursuits (technology, Acceleration, Tash Conferences) , that they can not do any one thing well. Yet, they still got paid, and continue to pat themselves on the backs.

As a previous person posted, our students receive failing grades when they do not do homework. Analogously, poor administrators contract's should NOT be renewed and the reward of a generous salary and pension should end. What a great opportunity to teach our children accountability! Modeling to our children that when adults fail at jobs, or don't follow through with promises, they get fired, or at least penalized.

Of course, this is not pleasant for me to say. No one wins when people break their promises or when people get fired. But parents are tired of being disappointed by one situation after another. We wanted Dr. Schuster and her team to succeed for years, but time is up. We gave them too many chances and we have lost faith in their ability . Time to hire people who are up to the task of working.

Anonymous said...

LOVE the idea of an emergency manager appointed by the state. We should all contact Dr. Christopher Koch of the IL state of Education and Governor Quinn. Isn't this an election year? Where are our governmental leaders when we need them? Where is our representative Patty Bellock? She lives in Oak Brook, and certainly must know about this situation. Remember their apathy and absence when they start calling and asking for donations and support during election years.

The Parents said...

Every person who submits a comment calling for the board to hold Schuster accountable needs to send a signed letter to each board member saying the same thing. Unless concerned community members/parents/staff/teachers begin communicating directly to the board, the majority of the board will continue to ignore the situation.

You can say in your letter that you are submitting your concerns and call for action by the board confidentially to them and expect that they will not violate your confidence by running to Schuster with your name. Tell them you fear repercussions.

Here are the individual board member addresses (if you send to the general board email address, Schuster will get an automatic copy):

Anonymous said...

Where in the world is Kirk Dillard? His daughter attends CHMS........

When people write their letters to board members, please also ask for Ms. Benaitis' contract not to be renewed.

Anonymous said...

It seems as if the job performances of Dr. Shuster, Schnieder, Igoe, and Benaitis really need to be examined.

If you have strong opinions please email the board to there individual email addresses.

This is the time.