For those of you who were unaware, following the mold fiasco at Hinsdale Middle School in January and February and the unfortunate expenditure of millions of dollars (that by the way, have driven the district budget into a nearly $1.5 million deficit*), a Facilities Committee was formed that includes some incredibly intelligent, dedicated, hard working and extremely thorough parents, community members and D181 teachers. The Facilities Committee was tasked with developing a long term master facilities plan for all of the schools, as well as making recommendations on HMS's more pressing needs. One of their suggestions was to conduct a district wide facilities survey to identify issues at each of D181's nine schools in order to help in the development of a master's facilities list.
At the April 28, 2014 board meeting, an HMS teacher on the committee presented a preliminary report on the results of the HMS survey. The preliminary results showed that teachers at HMS are very dissatisfied with the facility. Now, the final survey results have been made available on the D181 website. Click on the following links to open the survey results for each of the 9 individual schools:
We applaud all of the D181 teachers and staff who participated in the survey and who took the time to thoughtfully identify and discuss their concerns. We encourage everyone to read the posted results in order to learn what problems exist in the opinion of the teachers and staff. You will quickly realize that HMS had the most issues identified by the responders, however, every school had one or more issues that should be addressed by the BOE and administration over the next five years.
While we appreciate that the administration posted the survey results, we were disappointed that the results were heavily redacted. We fail to understand the need to do so. Teachers and staff answered the survey knowing full well that the Facilities Committee and the community would eventually see the results. We find it hard to believe that so many comments were deemed inappropriate for publication by the administration. Some of the redactions are of names of staff that the responders are commending. Why would the D181 administration want to hide the identify of those hard working staff?
The lack of transparency seems particularly egregious in the redactions to the question on security which asked: "If you feel there are significant security issues at your school related to facilities, please explain here." As one of our readers commented earlier today about the redactions to this question found on the Oak survey results,
"[T]here are about 10 comments. All are redacted. Why is this? I can understand editing out specific names, but ENTIRE COMMENTS?!? If there are security concerns at a building, I'd like to know them! If we're letting our children, our most prized possessions, go to these schools, and have friends and family work there, we have a right to know about any security problems. And I seriously doubt that the teachers and staff members would be unprofessional enough to use foul language on these surveys."
We agree 100% with this comment. How dare the D181 administration hide this information from parents of students in these buildings? We send our children to these schools every day with the expectation that they will be safe. Tax payer dollars have been spent to supposedly secure the entrances of the schools and to enhance the phone systems, all with the stated intent of making the buildings safe.
If security concerns remain despite these efforts, we have a right to know what they are. We also have a right to expect the administration and BOE to have a public discussion on how these safety issues will be immediately addressed.
This is yet another example of why the administrative leadership must change hands permanently effective May 27 when Dr. White begins working in D181 full time. We have lost trust in the current administration for the multitude of issues we have discussed over the last year. But this lack of transparency takes the cake. We must not stand for the administration hiding from us the safety concerns raised by the teachers and staff, especially if the perceived issues compromise the safety of our children.
We ask that Dr. White add this concern to the growing list of issues we hope he will address as soon as he is "allowed" to assume full responsibility as the SOLE superintendent of D181.
*Click here to open May 12, 2014 Memo on the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 Tentative Amended Budget that discloses the deficit caused by the HMS fiasco.