Tuesday, September 16, 2014

High School District 86 Concerns

We have been asked to begin a post on what is happening at the high school district, D86. As you may be aware, the teachers' contract expired on June 30, 2014 and the school board has not settled a new contract with the HHSTA -- teachers' association. Parents, students, teachers and community members are very concerned about the current situation and the behavior of the Board majority.

We have begun receiving comments on what is happening in D86 and have been asked to set up this free-standing post. Because what happens in D86 impacts all of our property values and will impact current D181/future D86 students, we agree that a free standing post on this is appropriate.

Below are the first four comments we have received on this topic. We invite our readers to sound off on D86.


Yvonne Mayer said...

Although this is a D181 blog, what happens in D86 will eventually impact all taxpayers and parents of elementary and middle school students. Parents need to start watching and calling out the misbehavior of the D86 Board Majority members -- Skoda, Manley, Corcoran and Casini. Follow what the teachers' association is saying at www.hhsta.org. Follow on Facebook a parent group called Supporters of D86. These community members are working diligently to get the "facts" on negotiations and other board actions out to the community. Watch the videos of the board meetings that are available at the D86 website under the BOE link. You will be horrified by the way the board majority behaves and treats community members and fellow board members.

Get involved. Complacency will only help destroy the D86 excellence we all moved here for.
Yvonne Mayer said...
The following is an email I sent the D86 Board this morning. For those of you who don't know about the Facebook "Likes" investigation against 17 high school teachers, google it. Both the Doings and Patch have run articles on it. Thankfully Dr. Law, a superintendent of the highest integrity, put a stop to it last night.

Letter to the BOE:

Dear Board of Education and Dr. Law:

I am writing this morning to thank Dr. Law for putting a stop last night to the illegal and unconstitutional Facebook "Likes" investigation. I am writing to thank you all for allowing Dr. Law to do his job and make the building level, personnel decisions that you have no authority to micromanage from the "balcony." Dr. Law did the right thing last night by ending this witch-hunt and the community fully supports his action.

I am also writing to admonish Board Members Manley and Casini for the absolutely unacceptable rudeness they displayed last night by refusing to stay for the public comments. It was bad enough that Ms. Manley refused to even return to open session, but for Mr. Casini to walk out in the middle of a public comment was so disrespectful to the speaker that everyone was left speechless and disgusted.

Part of your job as our elected officials is to LISTEN. If you are unwilling to do that, please resign immediately.

Respectfully submitted,

Yvonne Mayer
Anonymous said...
Kudos to you Yvonne! Thank you for your attention to this issue and for raising it with D181 families.

Yvonne is absolutely correct. All D181 families should tune in and pay attention to the actions of the D86 board majority. Their actions will dismantle a highly successful organization and leave it in ruins. They ran on being fiscally conservative and transparency but they have been anything but either of those things. WAKE UP and PAY ATTENTION. Educate yourself on the real FACTS on this situation - not the PR crap that the BOE has spent considerable taxpayer dollars to produce with "facts" that have been proven wrong.

The www.HHSTA.org has an excellent summary of events. Educate yourself. Do it now. Do it for your children.
Anonymous said...
Moderator - can you move the previous 3 posts to a new topic. This is an urgent issue that might get lost buried under a general heading of community concerns.


Anonymous said...

I have a freshman at Hinsdale Central (our first). I am already so impressed by many of her teachers. Most of them have terrific resumes, come in early to help the students etc. While I'm learning more about D86 and the negotiations, is the main issue the salary spiking? Granted, I don't think it's fair, or wise but it is a much larger issue that needs to be addressed at a higher level. Our district will become weakened if we are the only one stopping this procedure. Anyone with more knowledge please help us understand why the D86 Board isn't working with the teachers.

Thank you readers!

Anonymous said...

The "main issue" is NOT "pension spiking" -- the teachers have already offered a proposal that includes a value that is HALF the state mandated practice. Hinsdale Teacher's Contract Proposal

The "main issue" is the intransigence and utter hypocrisy of the head of the D86 BOE -- Richard Skoda, chief hypocrite

This charlatan has abused the Illinois Pension Systems to his extreme monetary gain and now, despite a guaranteed and untouchable State Pension worth millions, he cries crocodile tears over his property tax bill on his estate-sized home. There is nothing preventing him from seeking redress through the assessor's office or simply, as many folks do, down sizing.

Equally culpable is Ed Corcorcan, a behind the scenes operator that is wasting public funds and harming development in Clarendon Hills with his support of baseless lawsuits -- Corcoran's baseless charges needlessly harm Clarendon Hills

Yvonne Mayer said...

Below is an email I sent to the D86 Board this morning. They denied my Freedom of Information Act Request for the "Contingency Plan" in the event of a teacher's strike.

The denial letter and FOIA request can be accessed at the following link:


Email to the BOE:

Dear BOE Members:

Attached is the D86 response to my FOIA request for the "Contingency Plan." The request was denied in its entirety. Because I know that the Attorney General will take months to rule on any Request for Review I could file on this denial, I do not plan to appeal this decision. The District's response, however, speaks for itself and proves that the email Dr. Skoda sent to the community on 9/9/14, representing that a Contingency Plan was ready in case of a strike, was not true. There is no final plan ready to roll out.

Further, it is my opinion that the plan itself is not attorney client protected, so reason #1 given in your denial letter is not applicable. Further the "plan" would not really deal with the "terms" of the negotiation contract offers (which of course have now been made public, which could arguably waive this argument if it did apply), rather it deals with providing educational instruction to D86 students, so I don't believe reason #2 is correct.

Reason #3 for denying my request is even more laughable. If a FINAL report existed, then the document I was asking to be produced could not be considered pre-decisional. Moreover, since Dr. Skoda has "publicly cited" the Contingency Plan both in the email he sent to parents and in interviews he gave to the press, this exception does not apply either.

Finally, Reason #4 is an outrage. The contingency plan which should deal with providing teachers to replace those that might strike has nothing to do with "security measures whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to jeopardize the effectiveness of the measures or the safety of the personnel who implement them or the public."

Perhaps the board plans to provide a police or private security force presence in the event of a strike to "protect" those crossing the picket line, namely the administration and substitute teachers. If so, then you could arguably redact that from the document you produce to me and disclose the rest. However, as a parent, I have a right to know if you actually have security concerns and how you plan to deal with them. If you feel that disclosure of the entire document would create a safety risk for everyone, including the students, then how can you in good conscience suggest implementing the plan? Do you really expect me or any other D86 parent to send our children to school in the event of a strike if you are hiding the contingency plan on safety/security grounds?

You should be ashamed of your denial. I am a parent of two D86 students. I have a RIGHT to know what the contingency plan entails. You have no right to keep the plan from the parents, especially if Dr. Skoda is going around talking it up.

Publish the plan! It is your moral obligation!

Respectfully submitted,
Yvonne Mayer

Anonymous said...

While I appreciate Ms Mayer's support for the teachers, I take issue with her assertion that it is "outrageous" that high school teachers may be paid less than elementary teachers because they teach higher classes. The workload and professional knowledge of an elementary is just as great if not greater than high school teachers. High school teachers focus on one subject area, math, science, language arts ect. Elementary teachers must have knowledge in numerous content areas in addition to child development and classroom management. I would assert that the greatest challenges come with the youngest students for reasons that are too numerous to elaborate in this forum. All teachers deserve respect and fair compensation regardless of what they teach.

Jill Quinones said...

Dear 9:43 AM Anonymous

Part 1:

If you compare high school teacher salaries with those of elementary teachers in non-Unit school districts, the high school teachers’ salary schedule most often starts out slightly higher and tops out slightly higher. I myself am an elementary teacher and a little superficial research I did didn’t really pinpoint why that might be, but I imagine it is because:

(1) most HS teachers are required to major in the content area they teach in addition to majoring in education, while I am sure some elementary teachers do that as well, it is typically not required;

(2) when comparing HS teachers to most K-5 teachers (not middle school and not “specials”), K-5 teachers generally need to get to know and teach on average 25 students a year, maybe 50-75 if the students switch teachers for certain subjects; HS teachers typically have 150-200 different students they teach and therefore need to get to know as learners (as well as grade 150-200 pieces of work every time a test or assignment needs to be graded);

(3) HS teachers may teach in one content area (although many are certified in more than one), but they typically do not teach the same class (eg - US History) all day – they may have 3 or 4 different classes (US History, Asian Studies…) to prep for within their department;

(4) particularly in D86, every year there are 2000-3000 teacher recommendations to colleges that must be written (counselor and 2 teachers is typical) for Seniors, not only is this a time consuming job, it can be life changing for the student, and

(5) again, particularly in D86, most teachers are teaching at least 1 AP class, some are teaching more than 1 – these are college level classes with high stakes testing taken at the end, requiring much more from a HS teacher than an elementary one.

Jill Quinones said...

Part 2

I would agree that Middle School teachers look a lot more like HS teachers in the nature of their job (content area, number of students they see each day), but they don’t have the letters of rec to write or AP classes to teach).

Although I also agree that “Elementary teachers must have knowledge in numerous content areas,” it is content that most of us – myself included – did not need to attend to college to learn in order to teach. Most of us had mastered Algebra 1, Middle School English, etc. well enough to teach it prior to going to college.

Child development and classroom management are also required of HS teachers. Having parented children from birth through college, I honestly cannot say that any age was more or less challenging – different, but equally challenging.

Finally, although I cannot speak for her, I believe Mrs. Mayer’s outrage is the result of this - well I have to say outrageous - negotiation process the D86 Board Majority is putting the D86 teachers through. It has been sad, exhausting, and frankly unbelievable to be witnessing. The outrage is not over LT or D181 teachers making more than the D86, it is over a process that would propose to pay the D86 teachers at such a non-competitive rate with no thought to the impact both short and long term on the excellence in education that has historically been provided by the D86 schools.

All teachers do deserve respect and fair compensation. The D86 BOE majority is offering neither.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if the PAC could also support D181 candidates outside the hinsdale village caucus. It is concerning that after the poor leadership of Dr. Schuster who was blindly supported by the majority of the old board, we are having to continue with programs that do not match our district. Having a new superintendent isn't the only thing we need. We need more accountability. D86 seems to be at the other extreme and out of control. These people need to start representing all of the tax payers, not just a few.

Anonymous said...

The D86 PAC group is made up of community members from all D86 feeder communities, many which are not part of D181. Their goal is to identify and endorse a slate of D86 candidates.

As for the upcoming D86 election, I agree that we can no longer trust the "Caucus" that has endorsed candidates in the past. This upcoming election will not be different. Do not assume that the candidates that will be endorsed will not have hidden agendas. Word on the street is that at least 2 of the Hinsdale D181 Selection Committee Caucus members are radical right wing extremists, who will want to bring change down on D181 just as Corcoran, Manley, Casini and Skoda are trying to do in D86. They will play the "wolf in sheeps" clothing strategy and work diligently to convince the other committee members to endorse candidates of equal bent. The only way to ensure that this doesn't happen is for moderate and reasonable D181 community members to run for the school board and bypass the Caucus process. A D181 PAC group could and maybe should be organized to support such candidates.

Anonymous said...

Correction to my last comment. In the second paragraph, I meant to say "as for the upcoming D181 election", not D86 election.

jay_wick said...

I too am extremely concerned that changes in how the Caucus ws formed may break the traditional vetting process. The Hinsdale Caucus formation meetings traditionally took place in the early fall, that generally has resulted in well qualified individuals with at least a 'back-to-school' knowledge of issues able to be evaluated on relevant topics. Instead the Hinsdale Caucus switched to a spring formation meeting; at best this leaves it unprepared to deal with the extremists that have recently shown themselves to be narrowly focused on destroying our schools.

I would urge anyone with a modicum of interest in preserving the good reputation of D181 to immediately reach out to the Caucus committee so that a full discussion of the negative consequences of wrong headed ideologies can take place.

Anonymous said...

Curriculum decisions seem to be solely based on opinions, theories, and philosophies. Past data analysis (MAP, ISAT) needs to be part of the equation.
They are not providing this-why? Sure, we get our childrens print outs but, the results need to be presented -even at the most basic level (because I guess our admin. can't figure how to do this-complex analysis).

Parents please demand more evidence that these changes are good, bad, etc.

Robert Bland said...

I was at the District 86 Board meeting on Monday night during which they approved a $91 million contract before the public had a chance to see any of the details.

A well orchestrated circus it was. You'd think South's average ACT score was 30 instead of the pathetic 22.8 it is.

Hours of rudeness, bullying and disrespect by perhaps over 100 union teachers, who don't even live in District 86. One out-of-control pro-union lady from the audience interrupted the meeting and had to be subdued by the Hinsdale police. No media has reported this. Several people filmed this bizarre behavior.

Hours of sneering, laughing, interrupting, yelling out from the audience, screaming at the board to pass the vote now instead of first showing the details of the $91 million contact to the public, who's not yet been given any facts on the latest offer.

Using simple math...
$91 million for 2 years comes to $45.5 million per year. 377 union teachers get to share this bounty, which amounts to $121,000 per teacher per year. Based upon the contracted 185 days per year of work, that comes to a cool $654 per day of work or $82 per hour. Yes, you read this right: $121,000 per teacher per year. And under the new contract, more than 1/3 of teachers will make $130,000 per year, or $702 per day of work.

District 86 is massively overpaying its teachers. Remember, now, South's average ACT is only 22.8! Shameful.

Great private schools in the Chicago are run with teachers who make, on average, $50,000 per year.

40 years of corrupt union control at Hinsdale Central has to change. Brave people of honor see this wrong and are trying to change it.

For me, the shouting down of residence who tried to speak is unforgivable.

Robert Bland
Darien, IL
Ph. 630-235-7258

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bland: It is certainly your right to characterize Monday's meeting any way you'd like. Fortunately, the meeting is videotaped so everyone in the community can watch it and come to their own conclusions. Circus? Perhaps, but one put on by the board majority. Sorry to disappoint you but I attended the meeting and reached very different conclusions. Those are that Corcoran and Manley should resign immediately. They are toxic board members who have no place at at table of 7 that is supposed to work together to better our schools. Skoda is a hypocrite, collecting a pension based on an 80% salary spiking in his last four years as a teacher. He has no place to criticize teachers who at most under the current max allowed in Illinois would see a 24% spike, but now under the new contract will see much less. I hope he doesn't run for reelection because he now carries much to much baggage, all which has been videotaped for the whole world to watch. 40 years of corruption? Well, that's probably true for many of Illinois' elected public officials, some of whom are serving jail time for their illegal activity. I'm no lawyer, but it sounds from what has been uncovered by some community members that there may be illegalities going on by one or more board members. It would be nice to live in a world that was corruption free. I have no confidence that is the case right now of our local public elected school board officials. I ask you, Mr. Brand, do you think all of their behavior would withstand legal scrutiny?

The Parents said...

We would like to remind our readers that we are not going to publish any comments that name or personally attack community members. Naming, expressing criticism and negative opinions about elected officials is fair game. Please feel free to resubmit your comments after removing names of specific community members.