Saturday, March 7, 2015

Thanks to the Hinsdalean for their Continuing Election Coverage

This week the Hinsdalean published more information on the D181 candidates AND hosted the first public debate at Hinsdale Middle School.  The following are links to the most recent information they have published, as well as a link to a videotape they filmed of the debate that is now available on YouTube.

We encourage all of our readers to review the published articles, to watch the D181 debate in its entirely and then SOUND OFF!  We have already been receiving comments about the debate which we have copied below, but we'd like to hear from more of you.

Next week we will be publishing our endorsements.  As parents, these endorsements are the names of the candidates that we will be voting for.  Stay tuned.....

Hinsdalean Coverage in 3/5/15 edition:




Anonymous said...
D181 meet the candidates meeting had about 75-80 people attending.

My impressions were that:
1. Amy McCurry is a nice person. She is friendly and enthusiastic about the district, and would make a great neighbor. However, she is not a critical thinker, and is completely bought into what Dr. Schneider and Dr. White are doing. I do not think she is dishonest. She truly can not comprehend the concerns of people with high expectations, because she does not have them. Does not talk about data, measurement and metrics. Instead she uses the word "believe" frequently.

2. Mr. Turek claimed that results of our elementary students are moving "Up and to the right." I am not sure why he thinks that. I don't think he does either. Mr. Turek was Mr. Turek. What else can be said. Amusingly, Mr. Turek admitted that some students are not being challenged in the classroom the way L4A is currently being implemented. He suggested that the BOE needs to do something about that in the next 2-4 years. I thought, why not today!

3. Leslie Gray was the most articulate in my opinion. Expecting clarity, plans, data, metrics, and results. She emphasized the importance of including parents in the process. Only candidate to get a couple of ovations during her comments.

4. I thought Ms. Burns was excellent and focussed on establishing a strategic plan. A critical thinker, supports measurement, data, and results. I liked her.

5. Mr. Giltner seems thoughtful bright and is a critical thinker. He questioned whether details like L4A should involve the Board. However, he added a smart comment that he did not understand how they can all be in the same class until 8th grade and then suddenly split out to Algebra, Geometry, and Trig/Algebra II in 9th grades.

6. Mr. Czerwiac did not help his case when he talked about threatening to sue the school board. He sounded like a loose cannon. He did talk about data, research and evidence though and I liked that. He supported L4A by saying that we can't just go back to the old way. I thought that was a false choice, that it is not a simple dichotomy. I think he is wrong about L4A but he seems to be open to that possibility and willing to expect results to continue on this path. I had hope that while we disagree he is open to reason and evidence. I respect that. To his credit, he was the only one who directly said that the people deserve better than they are getting from the current BOE. I clapped.

My vote: Gray, Burns, Giltner, Czerwiac
Anonymous said...
Who won the debate? I couldn't go. Details please.
Anonymous said...
I agree with 10:53's observations of the debate. I really wish that people would stop saying that the learning for all plan replaced the tracking that was taking place with the elementary ACE program. Two very different things. ELementary ACE did sometimes track but impacted only a very small number of very accelerated kids. That was eliminated 3 years ago. Learning For All is something very different and impacts all D181 kids. They are apples and oranges and the impression that we need Learning For All to fill the void left by elementary ACE is just inaccurate.
Anonymous said...
I would like to add that I do not have a dog in this fight, but I was disappointed by the debate turnout. Apparently it was better than last year. I went because I care about the community, even though my youngest is too old to be impacted by the changes.

The limited attendance makes me think that most of the people with kids who are being impacted, do not want to be saved, or don't know what is going on. I was disappointed.
Anonymous said...
Most of the parents in this district have no clue about what is going on in their children's classrooms, they just assume that all is well because of the reputation of the district. In cases where their child is struggling, they just hire tutors. The only reason the debate had as many people as it did is because there were so many D86'ers there. Disappointing indeed.
Anonymous said...
Three words to describe McCurry: tax and spend.

She seems very nice. But very unqualified.
jay_wick said...
Let me clarify why I once gave consideration to blocking the actions of the prior BOE who to spent millions with an "energy performance contractor".

That third-party added nothing to the HMS project and was for all practical intents merely a way to sidestep normal bidding procedures -- Chevron acted as a middleman, hiring subcontractors without forwarding their qualifications on to the BOE for approval. For this they collected a handsome premium on a project that time has proven to be other than high quality.

Further, the portion the of Illinois Code that allows such contracts has been called into question before -- the use of such a the third party allows one big contract that otherwise would be split into smaller components. Instead of one huge number, the individual contracts would have revealed whether or not the work was in-line with industry norms. I believe such "all in one" contracts are designed specifically to avoid the scrutiny of the public. The public was kept in the dark about the type and amount of insulation added (if any), what kind of replacement windows were used, or even the expected lifespan of the primary HVAC systems. Adding insult to injury, Chevron came back to the BOE with change orders/add-ons that demonstrated their incompetence.

Decisions to pour more concrete on the roof almost certainly worsened the conditions that led to ice dams experienced last year. When Chevron notified the BOE that they were going to allow the contractor to "abandon in place" the old heat ducts that previously prevented the fire-sprinklers in the storage area near the gym from freezing there was no architect or HVAC engineering report to say what implications this might have -- hindsight has shown that had these things not happened the "water intrusion event" at HMS would NOT have occurred. That storage area was, in fact, the origin of the damage.

Had I been able to convince the BOE to bid out this work in a conventional manner or at least have the work more closely supervised by qualified a professional, the district would have been millions ahead.

I have some regret choosing not to pursue the matter. Though I instead pushed the BOE to get a slightly longer 'warranty period' it was insufficient. Unfortunately the mild winters we had in the intervening years failed to expose the extent of the incompetent workmanship during the warranty period.

To borrow a quote, this incident "is seared into my memory".

Do these sound like the recollections of a loose cannon? Or a concerned citizen appalled at how easily the BOE can be duped when it fails to listen to those with experience. I have sat through dozens of presentations of charlatans that claim to be able to "slash the costs of running the data center" and nearly all them fail to account for the kind of real-world issues that are unknown to salespeople. The reality is one week these people are hawking "cloud solutions" and the next "solar panels". When a sales person grabs the microphone and starts waltzing around the room like a gameshow host, experienced IT people know it is time to cancel the presentation...
For those that watch the video from last night this style will be evidence from just one candidate. Such a peacock is frankly incapable of true collaboration as their ego demands that they take center stage. Folks that have seen the D86 board well know how such personality-driven style doom a school board to wrong-headed action.

I've diligently asked that decisions be based on hard evidence and not vague promises. Whether it has been in my employment in Information Technology, in front of the D181 BOE or Village meetings or even the often quiet work I have volunteered to other schools / churches / community groups, I have prefered to help move toward a shared goal and not needless obstruction.
Anonymous said...
Jay Wick "Do these sound like the recollections of a loose cannon?"

I understand what your were trying to do. I am just suggesting that in the sound bite world of politics, you might want to avoid mentioning that you were considering suing the BOE unless someone asks you about it.

You have my vote.
Anonymous said...
I attended the debate Thursday night and felt it was very informational. I appreciate the fact that all of these people have stepped up to the plate. However we need 4 new board members who satisfy the following criteria:

1. Someone who is not intimidated by experts or uses it as an excuse since they are not interested in educational matters.

2. someone who believes in accountability for fiscal spending and program implementation.

3. willing to ask meaningful questions.

4. who is willing to delve into the data being presented.

5.Willing to listen to and take into consideration opposing views, engage the community and come up with some way to restore sanity to this district. Yes taxpayers, all tax payers matter. You can't pick and choose your neighbors. Learn to live with them! Come up with some meaningful surveys that will be used.

6. Lets get the teacher input, from all teachers. Please share it and use it.

7. Someone who understands that parents do want to know how their school is doing compared to other schools in the district and yes we may be interested in mundane matters such as building maintenance if it's going to keep our kids out of school for two weeks. No thanks to the only board member who voted against the split schedule. Please do look out for all schools and kids.

It was my understanding that the board had staggered terms to allow for continuity. We need fresh sets of eyes. Yes they are all nice people but who can contribute and be productive on behalf of the taxpayers most effectively. I felt Burns, Czerwick, Giltner and Gray would be good representatives who will put our students first and are willing to listen to teachers and parents. They also seem like critical thinkers who would be willing to ask the tough questions. Not knowing the history behind the HVAC at HMS, I also felt Mr. Czerwick displayed his commitment to transparency by sharing his previous involvement within the district. Whoever is elected I hope they will move us past this fixation on inclusion and social justice since we just want our children to be well educated and have the opportunities they deserve based on the high taxes we pay. If the goal of the administration is to not provide a rigorous program for all children, they need to start telling realtors in the area and stop the double talk. We are charged a premium for every service just because we live in Hinsdale including the assessments for the same house on a smaller lot that you may find in neighboring suburbs. Why are our home assessments so high if the village is not even comparable to LaGrange or Downers Grove and now the schools are going to focus on social justice and inclusion. 
Anonymous said...
Back to the debate, I just watched it on YouTube and encourage everyone who reads this blog and who couldn't make it last week to watch all of it. Here's my take away:

Leslie was fabulous and the most knowledgeable and sympathetic to the parents in the district. She was the only one who discussed at length the impending state budget cuts.

John was great. I didn't think he sounded like a loose cannon as someone had mentioned above. Very knowledgable about the issues and committed to serving the community.

Rich also seemed very well informed and confident. I loved his point about how D181 wants all students to be in the same math level, but then somehow branch into three (or four) levels when they get to high school.

Jennifer did very well, and her main contribution was stressing the importance of a strategic plan so the board and administration are not all over the place like they are now. She is very well versed on the issues.

Marty seemed very insecure and didn't back up any of his claims about the fabulous direction the district is heading in.

And Amy--if I had been blindfolded, I would have thought it was Dawn. Complete gibberish.
Anonymous said...
At the debate Marty said our advanced learners are waiting to learn - and we need to fix that in the next two to four years!!!!!! So is he going to support that "seminole" document on Monday and give pats on the back? After all it does not address the needs of advanced learners. In 2-4 years we will have lost a whole generation and d86 will pay the price.


Anonymous said...

If the rumors are true that an administrator is calling parents and telling them not to vote for our most qualified candidates then I am beyond livid! How dare he. He is not a taxpayer so stay out of the election. It is my belief that McCurry was put up to run by certain people in the administration - and she was put up to run to oppose our most qualified candidates. And it is my opinion that they are now poisening the well to get McCurry elected. This is so not ok. There is a reason McCurry bipassed the caucus process, in my opinion. I am livid

A British Tar said...

I was at the candidates forum. Some things I noticed: Leslie Gray was the only one I observed taking notes.

During his opening and closing statements, Turek got up and walked around a bit. Umm… why? It just seemed like he wanted to upstage the other candidates.

I also stayed for the D86 portion of the event. The candidates seemed nice and knowledgeable. However, It did get a little boring in the sense that they pretty much agreed on everything. Their answers pretty much all started with "I agree with the other candidates…" I really wish Skoda & his gang were there for a little variety.

Anonymous said...

Dear 9:35,
If Amy McCurry was the best that the administration could come up with, then D181 is in a lot worse trouble than I thought. After hearing the debate, it was clear that she was nowhere near qualfied.