Friday, June 6, 2014

MAP Test Results to be Presented at Next BOE Meeting, Monday, June 9, 7 p.m. at Elm School

According to the Hinsdalean preview of D181 board meeting topics, the spring MAP results will be presented at Elm School, 7 p.m. on Monday night, June 9. It should be interesting to see if the Administrators in the Department of Learning: Schneider, Russell, Igoe and Benaitis (all now under the supervision of Dr. White) will provide an honest version of what the results truly mean, or if the customary spin machine will be in operation. Judging by the MAP results from our own children and from what we have already heard from parents, the administration has some explaining to do regarding the impact of Learning for All. 

Stay tuned . . . .


Anonymous said...

They will say it is only one data point and you can not read too much into it. Now if the results are good, you will hear that learning for all is working.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure they will use the word celebrate a lot

Anonymous said...

I wish they would give the teachers a survey about their thoughts on Learning for All.

Anonymous said...

I'll try to either go to the board meeting or at least listen in to the meeting at home. If I can't, can someone please say whether there's more information on a referendum to build a new middle school?

I admit, I'm torn on the issue. On the one hand, building a new school would raise property taxes by quite a bit, and the board and central administrators have consistently shown a lack of responsibility in terms of being fiscally responsible (not asking Russell to pay back tuition, Schuster most paying for the search firm, etc.). Plus, I don't feel that they would design a building that truly fits the needs of the students, teachers & staff that would go there. I feel they would do what they think is best without truly understanding the day-to-day needs of the people who actually work there.

On the other hand, I feel voting "No" because you don't trust the board is cutting your nose to spite your face. There are so many problems that can't be fixed by patching leaks in the roof or adding an addition/remodeling. There's a lack of parking, the heat & air conditioning is intermittent, and many other concerns. Just look at the facilities survey the HMS staff filled out. When the people who work there all day, everyday write 41 pages worth of comments, there's obviously something wrong with the building.

Rant over.

jay_wick said...

Dear ranter --

The deadline for filing any referendum for the November election cycle is way out in August. No reason to think the BOE would be doing anything in June. Given that this will literally be only the second BOE meeting for Dr. White it is simply inconceivable that any such election cycle question is ready for the ballots.

Further there is no reason to believe that the HMS suffers from any "intermittent" HVAC issues; the decision of when to switch over from heating to cooling is based on the operational limits of the system that was installed just a few years ago. The lifespan of the McQuay commercial equipment is typically 15 years or more, the equipment at HMS was brand new in summer of 2009!

Maybe if the people that work there all day, everyday are writing 41 pages of comments what this really shows is a major problem with the level of commitment the district has to addressing basic issues like implementing a facilities maintenance ticketing system and then taking responsibility for addressing needed repairs...

If one has conversations with nearly any employee of the district the list of shortcomings for any of the district's buildings often comes up -- "not enough space for full day kindergarten", "not enough space for smaller class sizes", "build security not taken seriously", "facilities maintenance haphazard at best", "not enough training space for all district staff", "too many teachers without their own classroom"...

The fact is that staff that are generally unhappy with their working conditions are less satisfied than those that work in spaces that properly cared for -- Facilities Management Plays Key Role in Employee Satisfaction It is a real shame that this BOE continues to ignore such a vital component to success.

The district has approved significant sums to re-install crucial de-icing and snow control measures that were removed from HMS just last year; sadly this haphazard approach to facilities has been the rule not the exception in the district for too long. It would not be "cutting off ones nose" in spite but rather prudent to get a full picture of how effective the millions spent at HMS has been in ensuring its continued usefulness.

One can only hope that the parents and community members that helped to uncover the deficiencies in the current building maintenance will be listened to before more harm comes to the costly infrastructure of the district or worse, some tragedy befalls a student or staff member.

Anonymous said...

Wick makes some good points. I feel that until administrators are held personally accountable for the financial havoc their negligence and poor maintenance caused to HMS, however, nothing will ever change.

Again, the disaster that happened this year was not a freak weather related accident ! It happened because, year after year, no one was EVER held accountable for properly maintaining the building. No one made sure that building codes were current, or that modifications were made to address the deficiencies. The lack of any procedures being followed regularly, and the ensuing lack of any employees being punished for it in a timely manner created the perfect storm for a major disaster to happen. Now taxpayers are being asked to cover for them. Just as the schools have disaster drills, the BOE needs to make sure facilities and maintenance thinks of worst case scenarios and prepares for them in advance.

So now, to hear that administrators will not be getting pay cuts for their failures, yet taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill for renovations, or perhaps even a referendum for a new HMS is appalling! The long list of facilities complaints is just more evidence that the administration is sorely lacking in having clear cut job duties and responsibilities for its administrators in the maintenance of its own buildings.

It is the Board of Ed's job to have high standards and demand that contractual obligations be followed. The same goes for the decisions that the incompetent Department of Learning has been making in deciding if they will let our children slide by in math with only 70% mastery in elementary school math. It is elementary school - if they don't learn the basics now, with at least 90% accuracy, when will they learn it?

If the BOE doesn't hold admin to high standards in both facilities and in education, what is the point of even having a BOE?

jay_wick said...

Accountability is certainly a big part of why caution is needed but beyond that there are HUGE problems with conflating largely unrelated issues and 'concluding' that the "solution" is new construction.

The results of the staff survey are at odds with the FACTS that the extensive remediation efforts really have addressed issues related to moisture and air quality. The participation of community members / parents with expertise in these areas have gone a long way to ensuring that the appropriate testing / clean-up protocols were followed. We have to rely on the expertise of scientists in these matters, not emotionalism.

The history of IAQ ligation closely parallels feelings of job dissatisfaction / alienation.
Indoor Air Quality and Litigation
Personal factors SBS

Further, the disclosures of that same facilities-focused panel about neglected issues being a long-standing problem at not just HMS but other schools in the district has raised the profile of just how long the neglect has gone on. There has simply been insufficient expertise / oversight / responsibility for these vital matters in the district for too long.

The Board Docs note that a search to find a district level professional to fill this undervalued role is in progress with a recommendation to hire hoped for by the June 23rd meeting -- Dr. White's Report

Sadly some parents / community members seem to be under the false impression that there is some kind of "imbalance" because of differences in age / style of the two middle schools in the district; there is no evidence to support such beliefs. On the contrary, millions of dollars have been spent to make HMS compatible with its role as a 6-8 middle school and previous work of prior administrations/ BOE members has not singled out either middle school (or even other facilities in the district) as being superior / inferior in meeting the needs of staff or students. Several efforts have previously been undertaken to determine if a drastic shift in facilities is needed and all such efforts have come to the conclusion that given the constraints of the district, continued investment in existing facilities is the most prudent course of action. It is all but certain that any conclusions counter to that would be driven by reactionary fears.

The incontrovertible facts are plain: in addition to the emergency expenditures made this winter, there are hundreds of thousands worth of work scheduled for this summer at HMS to help improve its resistance to the weather. Additionally, just last night nearly $40,000 worth of higher-end modern furnishings for the HMS MRC were approved. MRC Furniture Expenditures

All these actions will no doubt impact the coming discussion, tentatively slated for September 22, Board Doc Planing Worksheet regarding the longer term needs of the middle school. It is highly doubtful that the district would be able to make any carved-in-stone decisions a mere 90 days after adding staff that would have primary responsibility for shepherding such a major shift in facilities past all stake holders...