Saturday, April 19, 2014

4/21 Board Meeting Provides the Opportunity for BOE Members to Establish Credibility with the Community. Will They?

The Agenda for Monday's Special Board Meeting has been posted on Board Docs. (Click to open agenda.)  The open meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Elm School following a 6 p.m. Executive Session to discuss personnel.* Listed on the agenda are 3 significant discussion items: election of BOE officers, the Facilities Committee report on Hinsdale Middle School and Dr. Moon's report.   Each of these agenda items will afford the BOE an opportunity to prove to the community if they have any interest in re-establishing credibility and accountability.  We will briefly review each item in this post, suggesting what we hope the board will focus on.  We will report back after Monday's meeting with a summary of the BOE's discussion and actions taken.

Election of Board Officers
First up on the agenda is the election of the Board President, Vice President and Secretary.  Board Policy 2:110 sets forth the qualifications, term and duties of the board officers.  (Click to open 2:110. We have also copied the text of the policy below.)  The policy provides for one year terms, sets a limit of two terms for each position and spells out the administrative duties for each officer.  The position of President is obviously the one with the most duties, the most important of which include presiding over all meetings, making all board committee appointments, calling special meetings and serving as the board's spokesperson with the media.  The Vice President's main duty is to perform the President's duties when he is absent or unable to perform them.

The officer positions are currently held by President Marty Turek, Vice President Jill Vorobiev and Secretary Mridu Garg.  Between April 2012 and April 2013, Michael Nelson was president and Glenn Yaeger was vice president.  Anyone who has attended or listened to past board officer elections knows that "the fix is in" before the organizational meeting even starts.  Typically, it is clear that there has been wheeling and dealing outside of board meetings amongst the seven board members that culminates in the nomination of a single candidate by a fellow board member.  Then, after no discussion of any kind,  a vote is immediately taken affirming the nomination.  Rarely is a second board member nominated for a position, but when this has occurred, the candidates are not afforded an opportunity to state why they want to hold the position, before the votes are immediately cast.  In such cases where there is a second nomination, you can tell from the body language and facial gestures of the majority of the board that they are just going through the motions of a "contested" election since "the fix is in" and the first vote results in the majority voting for the first candidate nominated, with the second candidate getting at most 2 votes --his/her own vote and that of the person who nominated him/her. 

So what will happen on Monday night?  We hope that this time around, there is a new process followed, whereby whoever wants to serve in an officer position will be nominated, allowed to state their reasons for wanting to be elected, followed by a discussion by the board on each nominee before the votes are cast. 

Who should be elected to serve as the Board President?  To answer that question we need to look at what we've learned about our board members in the last two years.

In our opinion, when Nelson was president, he served as nothing more than a rubber stamp for the administration.  As soon as his presidential term expired, he became a regular "no-show" at board meetings. (Click to open Attendance Record.)  In our opinion, he has been openly rude to people making public comments or filing FOIA requests with the district. Along with Mr. Turek, he has called for FOIA law reform that would restrict the community's access to public records and is counter to recent FOIA law reform. 

During Mr. Turek's one year as President, in our opinion, he too has served at the whim of the administration, done Dr. Schuster's bidding, shown his true colors as a bully and hypocrite and missed important meetings.  Mr. Turek has admitted to preparing for meetings while at his regular job -- on the same day as the board meetings and well after the deadline Schuster has set for submission of questions.  He has accused fellow board members of "going down rat holes."  He has repeatedly come to Schuster's rescue during board meetings and tried to deflect attention away from questions that fellow board members have asked. 

In Turek's absence, Vice President Vorobiev has presided over the meetings.  We have been impressed with her conduct, the respectful manner in which she has treated her fellow board members during discussions and community members during public comment. Similarly, on one occasion, Ms. Garg presided over a meeting when both Turek and Vorobiev were absent, and she too was respectful to everyone.  Ms. Vorobiev and Garg, while only completing their first year as board members have both expressed concerns when warranted and not simply rubber stamped every recommendation made by Schuster. In our opinion, Vorobiev has become more self-confident and proactive during the public meetings.  She has begun openly asking questions when concerns arise. 

During the course of the last year, we have seen which board members come prepared for meetings, have submitted substantive questions to the administration following publication of Board Docs for purposes of preparing for the meetings, and engage regularly in active discussions during the board meetings before voting on business items.  In our opinion, there are three board members who have fulfilled their obligations to serve our community as elected officials tasked with the responsibilities set forth in Board Policy 2:020. (Click to open Policy 2:020.)  These three are Jill Vorobiev, Brendan Heneghan and Mridu Garg.  

Sadly, Garg and Heneghan have been disrespected time and again by their fellow board members, other than Vorobiev.  They have been disrespected by Schuster.  Yet through all of these attacks, they have shown the backbone to stand by their principles.  They have compromised only when they felt it was in the best interest of the district, even if it was clear that they did not necessarily agree with the issue they were voting to approve.  They have always done the research and preparation needed to try and fully vet and understand each issue, have tried to make decisions that were data driven, even when the administration and Mr. Turek did everything possible to not answer their questions or provide the requested data. 

Mr. Clarin has also just completed his first year as a school board member.  He has been proactive outside of board meetings, but in our opinion,  he has gone too far, seemingly authorizing himself -- since we have found no record of a public discussion by the board requesting (prior to his doing so) that he assume various roles -- to micromanage many issues that go beyond the scope of a board member's responsibilities. These have included the HMS facilities issues, both during the crisis and now as a member of the facilities committee.  He has given interviews on more than one occasion to the media, despite the fact that only the board president is authorized to do so.  He has not supported or defended community/parent committee representatives who have bravely come forward to call into question the disingenuous nature of superintendent committees he has served on.  (Click to open 8/31/13 Post.)  In our opinion, during the Donoroo fiasco, despite evidence to the contrary brought forward by D181 staff who bravely came forward to expose alleged improprieties, he quickly volunteered to serve as the board member investigator (rather than support an independent investigation) and concluded that nothing wrong had occurred.  Now, as he has personally admitted to parents and community members, he is serving as one of the lead board member negotiators during the ongoing teacher contract negotiations, despite, in our opinion, the obvious conflict of interest that exists because his wife is currently a teacher in D181.  He has gone to at least one school to observe and speak to teachers about curriculum issues, while such behavior would have been discouraged or forbidden if done by other board members, past and present.  In the last six months, Mr. Clarin seems to have single-handedly achieved power and authority in D181 that has been unheard of for any prior board member.  One can only imagine what his behavior might be if he is elected to be the board president in the same year that the new superintendent is hired.  Who will really be running D181 if that is allowed to happen?

So who should be elected as the next board president?  We have chosen not to publicly endorse a particular board member for any of the officer positions, since we believe each one of you should come to your own conclusion.  We do believe, however, that it is pretty obvious that there are four board members who have proven that they should NOT be elected to lead the board.  Only three board members should be considered and whoever is nominated should state publicly why they want the job and what they hope to accomplish if elected.  Will such a process be followed?  We doubt it, but are hoping to be proved wrong. We'll let you know what happen once the votes are cast.

Facilities Committee Report on Hinsdale Middle School Needs

On Monday night, the BOE will also hear a presentation from the Superintendent's Facilities Committee on what work they recommend be done at HMS to address the roof leak and soffit issues.  Mr. Frisch, the Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations, has submitted 2 board reports on these issues.  (Click to open Roof Report, click to open Soffit Report.)  During the meeting, the Board will only be asked to vote to approve the low bid for soffit work, in the amount of $312,523.00.  Mr. Frisch's report is silent on whether the Committee recommends moving ahead with this work at this time.

With regards to the roof issue, Mr. Frisch's report candidly sets out 2 options that are being presented to the board for discussion purposes only.  The vote on the options is not scheduled until April 28.  The committee has been meeting regularly to discuss the HMS issues since the January 27 Board meeting.  We encourage everyone to read the detailed report, which also sets out a historical timeline of HMS facilities work that has occurred since 1976, the year it opened.  The report explains that "The majority of committee members prefer the option referred to as “Short-Term Solution for Long-Term Planning.” Some committee members prefer the option referred to as “Full Replacement.”"

The two options are described as follows:

Short-Term Solution for Long-Term Planning Recommendation:  This option will cost $328,000 + $15,000 annually (service calls).  

Per the report, "in this option, it is recommended that the Board take action on a short-term (approx. five-year) roof solution with the intent of the District then completing research to determine the community’s interest in various long-term options for HMS. If the community research shows support for only maintaining the building and/or renovation of the current facility and/or an addition onto the current facility, the Board could plan for a full roof replacement at that time. If the community research shows there would be support for new construction, the District would not want to invest $2.33 million in a new roof.

Further, the roof replacement would solve only one of the school’s facility challenges, and even that solution does not guarantee a leak free environment. There are still roof drain issues and drain pipes running through the building that have caused leaks. Short- Term Solution for Long-Term Planning would address between 50-55% of the leaks coming from the roof.

Information from community research would allow the Board to take informed, research-based action that has long-term solutions in mind. This would also allow time for the new District superintendent to be involved in the process.

Investigating the possibilities for HMS could lead to creative and innovative facilities solutions. This planning is a critical factor in providing school structure that complements and harmonizes with the educational system of tomorrow. It is prudent to address known areas of water infiltration with a minimal repair approach to allow the community an opportunity to voice their questions, concerns, ideas and vision for the future." (Report, page 3.)

Full Replacement Recommendation: This option will cost $2.33 million.**

Per the report, "in this option, it is recommended that the Board take action on a full roof replacement (of the metal portion of the roof.)  This solution would solve the major issues with the current roof, including water infiltration from the ice damming and the leaks arising from the vertical panels.  According to Mr. Mulvihill, this would be a 99% solution.  If the roof is only patched and repaired, it is likely we will continue to experience leaks, which could in turn negatively affect the infrastructure (walls, beams, etc.).  Additionally, continued leaks increase the potential of future mold growth.  Valuable staff time would be used to investigate leaks, replace ceiling tiles and drywall, clean, and control water.  This work could disrupt the educational process, and there is limited space where staff and students can relocate.

Repair costs are unknown; the cost of repairs could add up quickly, as would the associated staff time in managing these issues.  Further, one of the challenges of roof repairs is timing due to weather.  Different conditions create different types of roof problems (i.e. freeze/thaw).  We may not know if a repair has been successful until a problem is identified.  Further, some repairs may not be able to be completed in certain weather conditions.

The Short-Term Solution for Long-Term Planning recommendation would need to last no less than five years because even if the community supports construction of a new school, current students and staff must learn and work in a safe, healthy environment during the construction period, which can last three years following a successful vote.  The future of HMS is unknown. The District should protect the building with a long-lasting solution no matter what decision is made in the future." (Report, p. 4.)

Several questions emerge from this report that we hope the BOE will explore and discuss at Monday's meeting:

1.  Who on the committee comprises the "majority" that supports Option 1?

2.  Who on the committee comprises the "minority" that supports Option 2?
3.  What reasons does the "majority" of the committee have to reject Option 2?  
4.  What impact would spending a total of at least $3.5 million of taxpayer money this year (mold remediation, leak repairs and new roof) have on the community's future support of a referendum to raise at least $25 million more in taxpayer dollars for construction of a new middle school?

Every other school in D181 has undergone a complete rebuild or major renovation and improvements in the last 10 years.  It is now Hinsdale Middle School's turn.  Should a new school be built?  Should millions be spent now on a new roof, when it may be the community's desire to tear the building down and start over?  The community and taxpayers have not been asked what we think.  It is time to do so before any decision is made by the BOE on which option to approve.  As Mr. Frisch stated at the last meeting, the work done from January through the beginning of April remediated 20 years of mold. If the district could wait that long to address a pervasive problem, it seems appropriate to take the time now -- over the next three to six months -- to find out what the community wants, not just what a "majority" of a committee or "some" of a committee feel is the right decision.  

We can only speak for ourselves, but if the majority of the community wants a new school, then we don't want another $2.33 million of our hard earned tax dollars being spent on a new roof that will be demolished in the next two to three years.   The first step that the Board should take before committing millions of additional dollars towards long term solutions at HMS is to conduct an informational referendum or a survey that goes out to every taxpayer in D181. What is your opinion? Please sound off.  

We hope the BOE acts in a responsible manner on Monday night and doesn't simply "rubber stamp" Option 2 should it turn out that the "some" on the committee who support this option are the administrators and perhaps Board Member Clarin, while the majority who support Option 1 are the parents, community members, current and retired teachers.

Dr. Moon's Report

The third major agenda item that will be discussed during Monday's meeting is the administration's response to Dr. Moon's follow up report prepared after her return visit to D181 two months ago. (Click here to open Moon's report.)  Dr. Moon's report was published on Board Docs for the March 10 meeting, but it has taken nearly 1 1/2 additional months to schedule a discussion on what the administration thinks of this report.  Now, at long last, the Department of Learning has prepared a report addressing Dr. Moon's "Considerations" (a word that could mean "concerns....") The Department of Learning has responded to the Considerations by describing "Action Steps" it will take for each one. (Click to open Board Report.)

The BOE's discussion of the administrative report is the very last item on the agenda. Monday's meeting could prove to be another long one, due to the complex nature of the items on the agenda.  We, therefore, begin by expressing our disappointment that Schuster and Turek (who set the agendas for each meeting) have put this long awaited report at the tail end of the meeting agenda.  In our opinion, such action sends a clear message to the community that the Board hopes few people are left in attendance or listening to the live stream of the meeting by the time discussion on this item rolls around.

More importantly, however, we hope that all seven board members read all of Dr. Moon's report, the Department of Learning's Board Report and then thoughtfully consider the administration's response and "Action Steps."  We read through the report several times and came away angry and frustrated, because while the Department of Learning's board report is chalk full of mantra's such as "professional development," "classroom observation," reconvening task forces, forming new committees and holding more lectures for parents to attend, and more training for teachers, to address Dr. Moon's considerations, it is devoid of any mention of DELVING DEEP INTO an ANALYSIS of student performance data.  All of the action steps listed will be subjective in nature, leaving no room to confirm if the steps the Department of Learning has or will take in the future are backed up with DATA.  

Will any BOE member push the Department of Learning administrators -- all four of them -- to explain why Data Analysis is not at the top of the Actions Steps list?  The four Department of Learning Administrators who put their name on the Board Report -- Russell, Schneider, Igoe and Benaitis -- have a combined annual income of over $521,000.  (Click to open Administrator's salary chart.) Will any BOE member strip away and demand more detail and information on the, in our opinion, seemingly slapped together list of actions these four highly paid administrators put together -- a list made up of actions that are already taking place in the district?  We certainly hope the Board demands some answers and accountability, but frankly, at this point in the school year, we doubt that the majority will.

We will report back on Tuesday or Wednesday after we have had time to listen to the 4/21 board meeting.  We end by continuing to encourage all parents and D181 taxpayers to attend or listen to the Board meetings.  The next board election is just 11 months away -- on April 7, 2015 -- and it is never too early to start planning a campaign to replace some of the board members that might choose to run for reelection.

*It appears that the location of the April 18 and 19 meetings was not changed, as no changes were made to the agendas for those 2 meetings.  It is disappointing that the BOE failed to recognize the inappropriateness of conducting what was noticed up as a public meeting at a members only facility, Ruth Lake Country Club.  We posed questions in our last post about the manner in which payment for the facilities/food/beverage charges will be accounted for by Ruth Lake.  Will all payments made be booked as charges incurred by club member Marty Turek.  In the interest of transparency and full accountability, the Board of Education should set the record straight about this during the April 21 public meeting.

**To date, the Mold Remediation and Roof Leak work done at HMS has already cost over $1.2 million.  Adding the cost of a roof replacement will bring the total spent to over $3.5 million of taxpayer money.

Text of Board Policy 2:110 on Qualifications, Term and Duties of Board Officers:
"The Board of Education officers are: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.  These officers are elected at the Board organizational meeting.


The Board of Education elects a President from its members for a 1-year term and may be elected to a second 1-year term.  The duties of the President are:
  1. Preside at all meetings;
  2. Make all Board committee appointments;
  3. Be permitted to attend and observe any meeting of a Board committee;
  4. Serve as chairperson of the Education Officers Electoral Board which hears challenges to Board of Education candidate nominating petitions;
  5. Sign official District documents requiring the President's signature, including Board minutes and Certificate of Tax Levy;
  6. Call special meetings of the Board;
  7. Review appeals of record access requests that were denied;
  8. Ensure that a quorum of the Board is physically present at all Board meetings;
  9. Administer the oath of office to new Board members; and
  10. Serve as the Board's official spokesperson to the media.
The President is permitted to participate in all Board meetings in a manner equal to all other Board members, including the ability to make and second motions.

The Vice President fills a vacancy in the Presidency.

Vice President

The Board of Education elects a Vice President from its members for a 1-year term and may be elected to a second. The Vice President performs the duties of the President if:
  • The office of President is vacant;
  • The President is absent; or
  • The President is unable to perform the office's duties.

The Vice President also is the Board member charged with monitoring recommended policy changes for the Board, as described in Policy 2:240, and coordinating with staff and Board members to present policy revision for Board review.
A vacancy in the Vice Presidency is filled by special Board election.


The Secretary shall be a member of the Board who serves a 1-year term and may be elected to a second 1-year term.  The Secretary shall perform or delegate the following duties:
  1. Keep Board meeting minutes;
  2. Prepare Board meeting agendas and provide them, along with prior meeting minutes, to Board members before the next meeting;
  3. Mail meeting notification and agenda to news media who have officially requested copies;
  4. Keep records of the Board's official acts, and sign them, along with the President, before submitting them annually to the Treasurer on the first Monday of April and October and on such other times as the Treasurer requests;
  5. Report to the Treasurer on or before July 7, annually, such information as the Treasurer is required to include in the Treasurer's report to the Regional Superintendent;
  6. Act as the local election authority for all school elections;
  7. Arrange public inspection of the budget before adoption;
  8. Publish required notices;
  9. Sign official District documents requiring the Secretary's signature; and
  10. Maintain Board policy, financial reports, publicity, and correspondence.
A permanent vacancy in the office of Secretary is filled by special Board election.

Recording Secretary

The Board may appoint a Recording Secretary who is a staff member. The Recording Secretary's primary responsibility shall be the keeping of records, in bound books with numbered pages, of all transactions of the Board of Education in regular and special open meetings. In addition, the Recording Secretary or Superintendent shall record all closed meeting minutes and receive notification from Board members who desire to attend a Board meeting by video or audio means pursuant to Board policy 2:220, Board of Education Meeting Procedure.


The Treasurer of the Board shall be either an elected member of the Board who serves a 1-year term or an appointed non-Board member who serves at the Board's pleasure. A Treasurer who is a Board member may not be compensated.  A Treasurer who is not a Board member may be compensated provided it is established before the appointment.  An appointed Treasurer must:
  • Be at least 21 years old;
  • Not be a member of the County Board of School Trustees; and
  • Have a financial background or related experience, or 12 credit hours of college-level accounting.
The Treasurer shall:
  1. Furnish a bond, which shall be approved by a majority of the full Board;
  2. Maintain custody of school funds;
  3. Maintain records of school funds and balances;
  4. Prepare a monthly reconciliation report for the Superintendent and Board; and
  5. Receive, hold, and expend District funds only upon the order of the Board.
A vacancy in the Treasurer's office is filled by Board appointment." (Board Policy 2:110, Click to open 2:110.) 


The Pleasantdale Blog Team said...

It's hard to know whose train is crazier...yours or ours!

We actually have to hire a superintendent of curriculum because our superintendent cannot do his job. That's what happens when you have a board that agrees to a lengthy multi year contract and only three people that truly understand the problem. We are a district with 800 students and there is no curriculum in place. Our current language arts series was purchased in 1999!

Below is a link to see our crazy train in action. Midway through is the Math Professional Development plan. If you need a good laugh, try to watch it. We will try to publish a clip of just that section on

Anonymous said...

Jill should be president. She runs a good meeting and is neutral to both sides. But Turek probably wined and dined at Ruth lake this weekend and secured his re-election.

Anonymous said...

There is no way the BOE will be able to discuss each of these topics and give the time and discussion each topic deserves. Dr Moon's report should have been a dedicated meeting a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

When does the community get to weigh in on math acceleration and Dr. Moon's report? The administration, teachers and BOE have all been given a voice, but what about the community? There was no community buy in when L4A and math acceleration were shoved down our throats, and it appears there will be no input from the community when it is so called "fixed." We do not even get a survey. Oh, but they are claiming 84 percent satisfaction based on a survey where they refused to put in a satisfaction question for L4A.

Anonymous said...

Schuster still has the board majority on a short leash, especially Turek. These guys believe L4A works like a charm and they continue to drink Schneider's Kool Aid. You can bet they will want this ridiculous plan to continue long after Schuster clears out her office.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there has been no data analysis. Why do our kids take so much testing - with every single question data imputed on the post tests - if we are no going to analyze the data?

HMS Parent said...

Garg should be elected as the next board president. Several meetings ago, she made a heartfelt statement about her commitment to the BOE. She described herself as "just a mom" but one who is invested in serving her constituents. It was clear that someone had attacked her, prompting her statement. Garg is more than "just a mom!" She is one of the two most committed board members we have. She comes prepared to every meeting, ready to engage in substantive discussions on all issues on the agenda. She asks meaningful questions, even when no answers are received. She is respectful of everyone, nasty administrators and board members, and each and every parent who speaks at meetings or contacts her by email. She cares. She has proven this. As the only board member without a paying job, she has the most time to be available to fulfill her responsibilities as the board president. With a new superintendent and other key central administrators coming on board in July, we cannot afford to have a president whose time is limited. The majority of the board should nominate and support Garg tonight.

Do I think this will happen? Nope. It will probably be Turek for a second year, or Clarin. I will be very disappointed if the vote for either of these men is unanimous. A yes vote for a candidate means you support and condone their behavior in the past. There are many ways in which both Turek and Clarin's behavior (and Nelson and Yaeger, for that matter) has proven that they don't have the leadership and communication skills needed to facilitate the work of the entire board, both at meetings and outside of meetings. We can only pray that a new president will be elected tonight and that it will be Garg.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Garg is an incredible person full of character. She could have easily explained more about her personal life and the challenges she's faced in the past several years, but she held back, and has proven her committment to this district time and time again. We are lucky to have her serve on the board in any capacity. No doubt she would be a terrific president. Adding-she an Brendan are the only members who ever repsonded to my letters I've written to the BOE.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Garg should be elected president. I also agree that they will probably not elect her.

I think Clarin would be a very bad choice - dare I say worse than Turek.

Let's see if Clarin lives up to his campaign promises tonight. Check this out:

Citizens for Clarendon Hills (C4CH) School Board Candidate Questionnaire

Gary Clarin's response:

For District 181 Candidates specifically:
1. The Board just approved a major overhaul of what has been termed the “advanced learning program.” Was the approved re-vamp a good idea and what are your views of the process by which the Board approved it?

I attended several board meetings toward the end of the discussion and prior to approval of the ALP program. The basis of the program is that all children learn at an “advanced pace”. I personally do not believe that every child should be “advanced” but every child should be challenged to the best of his or her ability. There is a difference. The board took an extended time frame from introduction to approval ( nearly 18 months) and during this time several periods of chaos occurred due to incomplete or no information being available to the parents, students and teachers. If the board should have improved on any process it would have full disclosure during the process.

Disillusioned Middle School Parent said...

I support Garg for president.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the "good ole' boys club" mentality is extinguished tonight and that Clarin, Nelson, Yaeger and Turek support Garg for President! Heneghan and Vorobiev should also, but I don't include them in the "club." They have proven to think for themselves. Perhaps they can sway the good ole boys to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, track records establish that
Nelson is a chronically absent, bullying rubberstamper,
Turek is a hypocritical, bullying rubberstamper,
Yaeger is a big, nasty, let's take it into the alley rubberstamper,
Clarin is a micromanaging, control freak, rubber stamping, campaign respresentation flipper.

Pretty obvious that these four need should not be elected to serve as the board president.

HMS Parent said...

Anonymous: What is obvious to the the D181 community will probably not be obvious to these good ole' boys.

The Parents said...

Can someone who attends the board meeting tonight please video tape it and send us a link to the video. We will then try and upload it. It might be easier to video it in parts, as each agenda item is discussed. Thanks Followers.

Anonymous said...

Turek elected unanimously for second term as president. No other members nominated. No formal vote taken. Affirmed by acclimation. Bloggers were right. The fix was in.

Anonymous said...

A number of people at the meeting commented about replacing HMS. One thing I thought of: the district owns the field across the street, I believe. If HMS moved there, maybe the district can renovate the current HMS building to become the district's admin building. The district has several admin / district-wide services in several places. Not only do we have the admin building in Elm, there's an admin meeting room and science center in Monroe, ECE in Oak, district storage at Madison, district technology & B&G in Walker, district server room in HMS. Why not consolidate all of that? Just my 2¢

Anonymous said...

I never thought I would say this but I was so impressed with Nelson last night. He was spot on with most of his comments and he asked great questions. Go Nelson!

jay_wick said...

Part 1 of 2:

Dear 2¢ and others unfamiliar with the long less-than-pretty history of facilities in the district --

There have been literally millions of dollars spent by this and several other incarnations of the BOE to "improve" HMS as well as reconfigure the space at many other facilities owned by the district to "better serve needs". Either most of that money has been wasted or some dilettantes just don't want to take the time to get beyond the fact that appearances can be deceiving...

Back when HMS was constructed it was in the vanguard of thinking from architects that built schools -- flexible space utilization was paramount, a "commons" area was thought to encourage a more creative / egalitarian view of performance spaces (think "Hair" vs Lyric Opera...), less formal designs devoid of classical detailing were thought to similarly encourage progressive approaches to learning.

Our district was not the only one to buy into this. Brook Forest School in Oak Brook's D53 was similarly constructed as were many schools in the suburbs and more than a few even in Chicago. Some of the highest performing schools in the region have facilities that do not have a particularly inspired classical design and sadly even many facilities built in the past few decades in our district that do have neo-classical touches are now approaching the age where they too need some costly maintenance.

When ideas about the looks of school construction shifted back to the neo-classical styles coincided with the last wave of "outraged parents" the district spent a boatload of money to get rid of the retractable walls and other really egregiously maintenance prone "features" of HMS. There is little argument that its now more traditional classroom spaces that constitute the majority of space at HMS really are more appropriate to how schools do in fact get used.

That said there is a considerable range of ideas about how "à contre-courant" (pardon my French...) the other notable feature of HMS might in fact be -- many new schools have the large open "commons" area and when WELL PROGRAMMED by the district such a space can be an asset. Similarly the complaints about noises from uses of the athletic space on the upper floor being carried through to other parts of the building are generally rather easy to deal with appropriate kinds of acoustic isolation treatments if only the district / BOE had the desire to really deal with such things...

jay_wick said...

Part 2 of 2:

The FACT is there have been MANY MANY committees over the years that have looked at what the village and district would gain / give up by tearing down HMS and the conclusion TIME AND AGAIN is that there are scant benefits and a HUGE pile of negatives INCLUDING loss of green space, increased headaches with a less central location, likely conflicts with other land owners, potentially enormous expenditures, opposition from less than enlightened "tax watch dogs" and distraction from the real mission of the district -- too often these discussions have crossed over into contentious items including the appropriate mix of downtown retail vs residential space...

If there is a desire to have "open debate" about these things let's be honest about what has transpired before. The fact is a new middle school likely would cost $30 million dollars. D203 options include $30M Middle School, $63M+ High School When one takes note of other realities such as likelihood that our state's tricksters in Springfield will likely be increasing the burden on suburban tax payers, any prudent individual would surely question the wisdom of such an expense...

Let me be perfectly clear: when there was organized opposition to other efforts to renovate / reconstruct district facilities I literally put myself 100% out in favor of such efforts, going so far as to ring doorbells of those with opposing lawn signs.
Any informed analysis of the costs of maintaining some facilities /limitations found good value in prior projects. Those appropriate measures garnered the support of the community, but there is literally no comparison to structures built back when things like "central heating" were still "new fangled".

Those that falsely equate required maintenance on HMS to "throwing good money after bad" simply need to look at ANY commercial space be that an office, retail center, etc. The fact is owners of those properties must and do routinely INVEST significant sums to keep their assets functional. HMS is functional. When its roof is replaced it will be good for another 20+ years. The activities that students there undertake are not significantly different than those undertaken at CHMS or any other middle school. Those who would waste district resources and mire the district in needless diversions will not help their own children nor the overall community.

The current BOE is not particularly concerned with "managing the public's purse" -- expenditures have not been fully vetted, staff has not been held to any kind of standards of outside activities, even contractual obligations have been shrugged at. We have seen the "bad math" of district staff TRY to convince the BOE and public of supposed "savings" when clearly there is none. There is no shortage of community members that have deep experience in construction, no doubt if any such folks were to look at the "bid specifications" of the supposed multi-million cost of complete reconstruction of HMS' roof that number would quickly be trimmed back to something that is far more 'reality based'. Worse than that, with some BOE members continuing down a path of personal aggrandizement this may be the nightmare situation where someone who uses their public office to further personal goals would like nothing better than to embark on a costly and lengthy project that serves their own ends much better than meeting the true needs of the community. There is a saying in some circles in Illinois about public buildings: "For those names on the plaque in bronze there are more than a few that have lined their pockets in gold". Given the low standards for some on the current BOE this is a very real concern...

Anonymous said...

My children will attend CHMS, but I am in favor of building a new HMS. The reason I am in favor of a new school is not because of cosmetic reasons, it is because I think it is the moral thing to do and also the most tax efficient thing to do. Taxpayers on the other side of town paid for a new CHMS for my children to attend, and now it is time for taxpayers on my side of town to do the same for HMS. We have poured 10 million dollars into HMS since 2010 for repairs and maintenance. Those costs will increase as the school nears the end of its useful life. At this point I would rather any future expenditures to go toward a new school. The building has many more problems that go beyond the roof. There is poor ventilation, elevated co2 levels, capacity problems, insufficient classrooms, parking issues, ingress and egress concerns, lack of flexible space, sound insulation issues, wasted square footage, a lack of natural light, and the list goes on.

I am not an architect, but it seems to me that the best solution would be to build a new school on the HMS field. When the new school is built then demolish the old school and put the field in its place. The field would lend itself to a design similar to CHMS and perhaps we could use similar plans with a few tweaks. There would be no loss of green space. I do realize that a few neighbors would be upset. No plan is going to make everyone happy.

jay_wick said...

Re: Moral thing to do

You want to talk about "tax efficiency"? Check your tax bill. Nobody on any "side of town" has paid for anything exclusively. The tax rate for the ENTIRE DISTRICT is set by the amount of the levy divided by the value of ALL THE PROPERTY in the district. Basic stuff that any property owner in the district ought to be ashamed not to know. Property owners with a higher assessed valuation shoulder a greater burden and those with properties of lowered assessed valuation shoulder a lesser burden. If you feel compelled to talk about fairness I will happily introduce you to some friends in the CHMS attendance area with property taxes triple the amount I pay and not the least bit upset by it.

As I said, when poorly informed folks were opposed to previous efforts I literally rang their door bells and the signs came down. Don't suppose to lecture me about fairness.

The "moral thing to do" is refrain from nonsensical talk of any public buildings nearing the end of its useful life. Should the John Hancock building be removed from Michigan Ave? Let's raze Oakbrook Center Mall. Maybe Union Station should be replaced? Hinsdale's Memorial Building? New buildings need maintenance too. Even the most ardent advocates of "green" buildings and LEED certification agree that RETROFIT is far and away the right choice over demolition --
Retrofitting Existing Building to LEEDs Standards | The Centre for Sustainable Buildings and Construction
... generally, refurbishment solutions are lower both in environmental impact and whole-life costs (over 60 years) than comparative redevelopments.

Guess who was willing to file suit against the district to get them to utilize more green HVAC equipment at HMS instead of installing lower efficiency solutions? That would be ME! I relented when the contractor at least agreed to extend the warranties on their work...

Why did I do that? Well the way the BOE was snookered into those expenditures by money grubbers from Chevron was with a variation of "performance contracting" that exists in Illinois (105 ILCS 5/Art.19b)ARTICLE 19b. SCHOOL ENERGY CONSERVATION AND SAVING MEASURES an abhorrent mess that porks up contracts -- what they should have done was a write a contract that would have seen REAL savings:
Green Schools Caucus Initiatives | US Green Buildings Council
Green Performance Contractingis based on the same project delivery method as traditional performance contracting, but enhances the processes by utilizing the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance rating system as criteria for a comprehensive green project and the paid-from-savings approach...

The air quality concerns of HMS have been addressed. Even folks that have found about those problems through this site have lent their expertise to the district. Yeah bloggers.

There are state laws that would be invoked if there were truly any "life safety issues" with things as basic as "ingress and egress". Ever hear of the tragedy at Our Lady of The Angels? After those deaths there was a complete re-write of Illinois fire code in the 1960s and Illinois continues to have extremely stringent standards from the State Fire Marshall for such things.

Maybe the blog is not enough to inform people; I certainly hope no one would pretend to be from one of the schools served by CHMS but this is not about any kind "equality" it is about the shameful tactics that some folks have resorted to enrich themselves while doing NOTHING to improve the educational environment for the district and the lack of awareness that too many folks have over what really matters for educational success.

Anonymous said...

Wick: please read the facilities report on board docs and listen to the podcast from last night. Engineers and very highly qualified people made these points - not the bloggers.

We all know that you do not want a new school. But other people are allowed to think differently without getting attacked by you.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of a new middle school, but I am very worried. Rehabbing a 37 year old building will be considerably easier that undertaking a massive public school project in the middle of our downtown. Consider the zoning nightmares and red tape involved just with the village. Our district has enough on its plate with hiring so many new administrators and attempting to figure out why none of them can accurately implement the Common Core. Now is not the time to burden D181 with yet another major issue.

The fact that our boards and administrators failed to supervise/monitor Hinsdale Middle School for years is proof that, generally, public entities will never show the responsibility that business and home owners show when caring for their own properties. Are there instances when it does happen? Yes. But we haven't seen it in Chicago in a LONG time. The generous tax payers in D181 will be left holding the bills, yet again. Do you really want to add the burden of a middle school onto your list of financial responsibilities? Do you really trust an unpaid volunteer BOE to be fiscally responsible with your money? Let's be realistic. They can't even get their own administrators to answer basic questions about elementary school curriculum questions. Dr. Schneider, a relatively inexperienced and young new hire, proclaims his theories as "non-negotiable" and the BOE turns a blind eye. Why?

Bravo to Mr. Nelson for finally taking a tougher stance. I hope that all board members start asking tougher questions to set the tone for the new superintendent to respect our community enough to not try to mislead us again. Do you think this entire BOE would be capable of getting sophisticated commercial builders and contractors to give them a straight answer? Or that they would insist that prices on contracts be honored? I like the idea of parents becoming involved, but there is so little transparency, and such high levels of disrespect towards parents, that their input would never be valued. This bureaucracy of D181 is far too dysfunctional to judiciously and prudently supervise a $20-60,000,000 project. It is a shame, because parental, administrative, and board cooperation is the only way that a project like this would ever be successful. Now is not the time to expect cooperation to occur. I hope that in a few years the situation will be different, but only time will tell.

(continued below)

Anonymous said...


Last night, we heard that the BOE is looking to hire yet ANOTHER educational data analyst at $47,000 because Dr. Russell and Ms. Benaitis are not capable of doing it themselves. I don't blame the BOE if they hire this consultant. We need help. The abundance of faulty data analysis that has occurred in our district the last 5 years is shocking. However, WHY did the BOE renew the contract of Ms. Benatitis if she is not capable of analyzing data and cooperating with the high school district's recommendations herself? And why did Dr. Russell need an assistant in the first place? Hopefully the BOE will NOT hire a replacement for Dr. Russell at all, and, instead, will hire a new superintendent who is already knowledgeable enough to analyze data and supervise a real, qualified educational "consultant", vs. a salaried figurehead.

Another reason to not trust the BOE: it appears as though the BOE will GIFT almost $40,000 of our children's tuition money for Dr. Russell's PhD, even though his contract clearly states that he must repay it. Would they allow a builder to put an asphalt roof on a new HMS, even if the contract specified a superior slate product? Probably. If they can't honor basic contracts in one instance, who is to say that they will insist that future contracts will be honored? We should charge Russell the $40,000 tuition AND deduct the $47,000 in consultant's fees FROM Dr. Russell's and Ms. Benaitis' salaries because they could not figure out how to do it together. And while you are at it, don't forget to deduct the consultant fees we are paying the Regional Office of Education consultants (don't we pay their salaries, too?) who were supposed to help them with our district's math and L4A acceleration fiasco. Where are the results of those consultant's anyway? Did they ever meet with our administration?

Do I wish our children had a prettier, less leaky middle school? Of course. I am very disappointed that my children will spend 3 years each at HMS. But sadly, I do not think that this is the right time to undertake new projects. Our new superintendent will already have his/her hands full trying to sort out the mess that Schuster and the Department of "Learning" created. They will be swamped for a while. Let the new person settle in and prove themselves in their area of expertise - education - before we ask that they supervise a multi-million dollar construction project. Let's rehabilitate this fairly young, 37 year old building and focus on the important issue: our children's educations.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, parents have been shielded from many of the "crises" facility issues that teachers have faced for years in this school, all while trying to continue to raise test scores. This came to a head this year because no one listened to the canaries in the mine. How do you deliver curriculum when you have men hanging out your window during class chiseling ice off the downspout? Or your classroom has been shut down for weeks because of a block of ice 2x3 feet in size is melting overhead and leaking into the room while you teach. Oh, wait, there's nowhere to go, so you spend weeks teaching in an open library, taking ISATs in the same condition. Stories like this could go on and on. The debate will continue for months, but I encourage all of you to keep an open mind. This is about providing a learning environment for 830 students who deserve better.
No one wants to pay more in taxes, but good luck trying to lure people into buying a home where their children will some day attend this "school." It frightens me that people with such high standards for education are comfortable with the inadequacies of this facility. Please read the careful analysis and the product of many, many long hours by the well-educated members of this committee. Or better yet, volunteer to join it. No one is rushing to do anything. They want to assess the community's take. Odds are all members of the community will become invested if they realize that other recommendations will likely be made if an adequate building is not provided for our largest population of students. The 830 students there simply don't fit in this space. 31 classrooms. 36 needed.. 5 traveling CORE teachers every year. Grade level centers are much more efficient than neighborhood schools in terms of "finding space" in the district. Is that really a road you want to go down? This decision affects everyone and there's so much more to consider here than just the failing systems which have deteriorated significantly in the past ten years. Please do some homework before you continue to suggest that this is not needed at this time. 75% of the drywall removed was contaminated by mold. Would you keep a home in that condition? In this community, I seriously doubt it. You should be thanking your lucky stars you don't have lawsuits from staff and students who have suffered for years in this "sick building." If people of this community can donate $100,000, simply passing the hat for a wooden basketball court for CHMS, I think we all can come together to build a facility the entire community could use and be proud of. Let's find out first the projected tax increase before we start claiming we can't "afford" it.

jay_wick said...

Re: Professional engineers and architects are not the problem...

Look, the district has a lousy record of handling maintenance and expenditures at HMS.

If anyone cares I'll happily detail the lengths I went to try, in vain, to get the district to really do the right thing five years ago with the HVAC but the simple answer is that in my line of work I've dealt with a lot of firms that will fleece the naive when comes to "high dollar" contracts and I've learned that it is relatively easy to ask even consultants that appear to have "high integrity" to prepare a report that says whatever the folks paying for it want said.

I spent just a few minutes trying to get some baseline prices for a COMPLETE reroof for a school in a climate similar to ours. Here is link to a contractor that did a complete re-roof of a school in a town that is sort on the rural fringes of Ohio near the West Virgina / Pennsylvannia border -- HRI Past Projects AND here the report from the State of Ohio auditor that shows the district paid the firm $623,240 for the complete re-roof. ST. CLAIRSVILLE-RICHLAND CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT AUDIT REPORT FY2013

Maybe their school is not as large HMS and maybe there are other details that will boost prices a bit but my guess is since the sq ft of HMS is listed at about 104,000 sq ft and it has at least three levels I'd be real surprised if things were way off from the 54,000 sq ft of the OH school...

A more likely answer is that the "complete reroof" estimate is based on specs that could survive a tropical hurricane Multi-hazard Loss Estimation Methodology: Hurricane Model | or some other grossly irrational assumptions designed to scare the pants off folks...

I've seen lots of hinky things slide past governmental bodies when the elected officials are asleep at the switch. I've learned to exercise extreme skepticism, quickly google up data that refutes silliness and generally "part the sea of lies" with what once was called 'common sense'.

When there are real problems I don't mind being on the side of the unpopular and if evidence surfaces that says the crowds have not been snowed I have no real dog in this fight. I have no beef with the folks that run this blog and if they can find folks that say the re-roof estimate is not orders of magnitude out of whack I'll happy listen to such analysis but for now my quick & dirty estimates say the "very highly qualified individuals" have about as much credibility as a certain district administrator's sensitive nasal passages...

Honestly if the BOE and district administration had not so utterly destroyed any credibility by their inaction on pressing matters and total capitulation to any sense of ethical behavior I might be less adamant that there may be some truth behind the re-roof guesstimate but as it is this smacks of "gimme a number that is an edge case of what we could be in for, something big enough to let us kick the can down the road" scare tactics.

The BOE will just be inviting the kind of crooked weaselly contractors that haunt homeowners nightmares if they seek bids with the assumption there will / could be leaks in five years. That is just a NUTTY way to approach this! I mean, it'd be likely hiring a tradesman to "fix" something "good enough so I can list it for sale and it leave the mess to the next sucker". How the HECK could anyone NOT attack such a clearly underhanded proposal?

Anonymous said...

How are the contractors who make repairs any different than the ones who placed bids on a full roof repair? Underhanded proposal? By whom? Please do your homework. The reason there were ice problems on that building this year and currently "spider legs" running down it is because a heat trace system that was there before last summer was not reinstalled on downspouts. A pipe froze in a cold storage room after a teacher alerted administration of the extreme temperatures in that room weeks prior. Nothing was done. Our B&G made those decisions; ignored recommendations. They've owned that error. Dare I say someone might have lost a job over that costly decision, but to ask the community to wait a year for a new roof is not underhanded. Let the group get a pulse from the community before putting $2.3 M into a "house" you might possibly "tear down." Temporay fixes would likely include mistakes made last summer which need to be corrected or ice/leaks will be back again. This ended up being costly for all of us. All in an effort to "save money." Just wish bloggers would hold off on judgment without having all the facts. It's just not accurate.

jay_wick said...

Let's be clear, there have been NO bids.

The highly paid consulting firm has not even written specifications for bids yet, merely recommendations for possible alternatives.

I know all about the reason for the for the recent leaks -- the prior BOE, following the recommendations of their wholly unqualified B&G person and other incompetent contractors & consultants, abandoned-in-place the previous heating system ducts which left previously conditioned space vulnerable to low temperatures. That lead to the frozen pipes. A space heater has now been installed to prevent any such problems in the future, and insulation was upgraded. Those things should have been done 5 years by Chevron but they were too busy taking their cut off the top...

I also know the issues with ice damning were caused by problems with the routing of the gutters that were likely exacerbated by methods of installation choosen by the HVAC contractor. The heating tape was installed following those problems and whoever removed / disconnected that heating tape essentially sabotaged the building leading to the massive ice damn issues.

If bid specifications are developed that will address all the problems created by haphazard approaches to prior repairs it will be money well spent. If those bids are then reviewed by people with the knowledge to evaluate the competence of the proposals it will result in a building that will be weather tight for the life of the products selected.

There is no reason to believe that developing bid specifications for a re-roof will take any more time than devlopings specifications for repairs, on the contrary if the architects and consultants really do mark out the areas for repair it may very well result in contractors needing more detailed information than simply instructing skilled roofing contractors in standard building terminology such as "remove all existing roofing, coping and exterior gutters, replace with approved standing seam metal and single-ply elastomer / thermoplastic membrane secured to FM1-90 standard and appropriate commercial rain gutters"...

Simply put the underhandedness of this being a "back door" way to get a new school after multiple efforts at such a proposal have resulted in dead-ends is intolerable.

A desire to have fewer classrooms that are shared by multiple teachers is not the same as a true lack of classroom space, nor are any of the issues thus far brought to light the kind of thing that would impinge upon the educational offerings of the district.

Surely with the free-spending habits this BOE has demonstrated that should allow consultants to add enough staff to have bid specifications ready quickly and hungry contractors will still be eager to take on this work over the summer.

The lack of action of the BOE and district staff certainly seems to be a severe case of "kicking the can down the road" and the prudent course of action NOW is to replace what is obviuously a roof that is no longer serviceable.

Ruth Lake CC Member said...

I was at Ruth Lake Country Club this weekend for dinner. Upon entering the club, I saw a sign for the "Turek Dinner," not the "D181 Board Meeting." The sign says it all. Turek "hosted" the dinner and no doubt his account will receive the "credit" for any $ spent on the "dinners" by D181. Just another example of Illinois politics. Personal benefit for our elected officials. Disgusting.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we need to respect each other's opinions. Deciding whether or not to build a new school is a huge proposition. This blog works best when people are free to engage in open dialogue and keep an open mind.

I just listened to the podcast. Mr. Clarin's comments struck me. He said, like it or not folks learning for all is here to stay. He said this after there was no data at all to back up whether or not the program is working - something Nelson pointed out (Nelson - I agree with others - you were fantastic!!). If we are not going to make data driven decisions - and if we are not going to change instructional decisions based on data - then I do not support the data cooperative. Why analyze the data and then ignore it? Instructional decisions should be driven by data. Sadly, instructional decisions in this district are driven by a plan - a plan that is more important than data or the emotional or educational needs of our children.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to whomever pointed out all of the terrible teaching conditions at HMS. I am horrified that children and teachers have had to go through that. Something, whether it be massive rehab or temporary facility borrowing (Union church classrooms? Empty storefronts could also serve as offices or classrooms) needs to be done ASAP. However, for the life of me, I can not understand WHY Dr. Renee Schsuter is getting away with hiding and ignoring the information from our BOE, parents, and community for years!! This is criminal. It should not be taken lightly. In my opinion, I feel the community should file a class action law suit against Dr. Renee Schuster to personally hold her responsible for the health problems, the terrible learning environments, and the falling property values of our homes. Since this is a public school, the district attorney needs to get involved.

It was no surprise when she resigned as soon as the ABC expose of her mishandling of the building appeared on TV. But her arrogance in continuing to collect a paycheck, still preside over BOE meetings, and to CONTINUE to completely ignore these glaring facilities issues is proof that she feels no sense of remorse or responsibility to rectify her wrongs. Sue her and make HER financially responsible!!!

I for one, am not one of those people who can afford a country club. We work 10-14 hour days and never take more than 3 weeks off a year. We moved here just for the schools because we cannot afford private schools. Had we known that HMS was in such bad shape, we would have moved to Westmont and out our kids in private schools. I find it shocking that people can raise $100,000 for a gym floor in a day, yet don't bother to show up at board meeting or read about, and understand, that the common core is not being implemented correctly in our district. Although it might for some people in this town, money does not grow on a tree in our backyard. And our kids will never qualify for college scholarships due to financial need. By the way, unlike Schuster, we won't get a pension, and our companies could go broke and lay us off at any time.

If those wealthy people want to donate their spare change to building a state of the art middle school, fabulous! I would be eternally grateful and not stand in their way. But, when Dr. Schister is allowed to collect her pension, her salary, and act innocent, I say we all go after her and hold her personally responsible for the egregious way she has treated our community. While she is vacationing in her summer home in AZ, paid for with our community's property taxes, our teachers and children will be wondering if they will return to the mess called HMS in the fall. She needs to be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

I'm completely against our district hiring a data analyst. We have more than enough data. Wait until next year, then seriously consider which administrators contracts are up for renewal. If they don't have that skill (to analyze data) , perhaps its time to move on. Many, many parents can tell you what "holes" there are in the curriculum. No data required. D181 is still struggling with writing instruction. It doesn't take an analyst to see what percentage of kids didn't improve on the writing samples. Time to move beyond this and implement changes. Another frustration of mine is that I've seen some terrific resources being used(granted it took over half the year to implement) at one grade level, yet nothing new at another. Last night I was "creating" homework for one of my children because its reached the "ridiculous" state.

Anonymous said...

Time for the district to stop funding Schneider's research and lecture circuit and get serious about the Common Core. If the BOE is correct and L4A is here to stay, does that mean they are only looking at Superintendent candidates that buy into this nonsense? Someone has to stand up to the L4A mess we are in.

Anonymous said...

Ok let me get this straight. We renew Ms. Banaitis' contract because it would "look bad" to applicants if we fire her. But she doesn't have the skills to perform her job so we need to outsource it???? Makes no sense. Can we please analyze the data we have and get rid of learning for all once and for all. And yes, Clarin's comment suggests that the new super supports this plan.

Anonymous said...

Over a month ago, many of our students were subjected to lost instructional time taking PARCC field tests after a full week of ISATs. Many parents questioned the reason for these tests and the impact of lost instructional time. The administration said it would help both the learner and the district prepare for the PARCC and provide learning opportunities. That was about 3 BOE meetings ago, yet we have not heard zip about these tests. How did they go? Were there glitches? Did the kids feel frustrated? Feel good? Feel overwhelmed? What did we learn? Are we prepared? Concerns? Again - if are not going to analyze results then don't give the tests and certainly do not invest in a data cooperative when we are not analyzing the data we already have!!!

Anonymous said...

Only a small number of sections/classes were chosen for this "pilot" for the state. Some schools have finished their rounds of the PARCC, but others have not finished yet. The testing windows were assigned by the state. I'm not sure how much information we will gain as I've heard the state will not be sharing individual results. Because the PARCC is administered electronically, it sounds like it is more of a field test for whether the technology of the district can support such a test. I imagine more information is coming on this. Here's a link that may help.

jay_wick said...

Bizarre mismatch between headline and story --
Doings Coverage of School Board

...lack of natural light, poor acoustics, safety and security issues, a poor internal layout, and not enough room ... If we just repair the roof, we already know we will continue to experience more leaks ... Continued leaks will continue to negatively effect the infrastructure of the building and increase the potential of future mold growth. ... HMS is an embarrassment said board member ... The roof is kind of a red herring. We need to invest ourselves in a referendum...We can have an answer within a year and then decide where to go from there...

You'll notice that the district's own staff seem far more concerned with properly addressing the problem by re-roofing the facility than any of the school board members. They call the valid concerns of their recently hired facilities coordinator a "red herring'. If this is not MICROMANAGING and literally UNDERMINING staff then I don't know what is!

I am also 100% sure that NONE of these BOE members would have made it past either the selection processes of the caucus or the approval of voters had they plainly stated their preference for spending tens of millions of dollars and spending additional years in a building that is not properly maintained.

The despicable reliance on not data but personal preference for a more aesthetically current facility must be snuffed out. The hypocrisy of a BOE all too willing to enmesh itself in the details of facilities cannot be tolerated.

Clearly these BOE members are duplicitous in their insistence that oversight of educational mission of the district or financial mismanagement of the district is "micromanaging" while painting the district into a corner that forces the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars against the recommendation of staff but will result in BOE having their names emblazoned on a corner stone is a valid use of their time