Sunday, May 3, 2015

Out With The Old, In With The New: BOE Meeting Monday, May 4 at Elm School, 7pm

We have returned from a much needed post election hiatus in order to remind our readers that the newly elected board members will be sworn in at Monday's meeting. It's one you won't want to miss because it will be the last time the previous board will be collectively present, ever. Yes, we will be saying a grateful goodbye to two of the old members, whose reputations are centered (in our opinion) on the despicable tactics and behaviors of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation. We say good riddance; you should pick up some SELAS pamphlets and handouts from your beloved Department of Learning to review as you waltz out of Elm School for the last time. 

Unfortunately, we will also witness the loss of one of the best BOE members, Brendan Heneghan, as he steps off. We can't say enough about his commitment as a board member during the past four years. We appreciate all of the time, effort and energy he has put forth to try to make a difference for our district; he will be greatly missed. We wish him all the best.

As the newly elected board members are sworn in, our expectations are high. We look forward to their input and dedication we know they will have as they move forward. After all, Jennifer Burns, Richard Giltner, and Leslie Gray were elected because the community spoke loudly and clearly at the polls: we all want change. If we didn't, then an internal candidate would have been elected. Ahem. Enough said. 

So, there you have it. Monday's meeting promises to be interesting in that we won't expect the status quo to continue as it has for several years. We hope the new BOE will immediately have an impact on the direction of the district, which is something that is long overdue. 

Check it out for yourselves. See you on Monday at Elm.


A British Tar said...

I admit, I'm torn between going to the 181 & the 86 meetings. Both of them should be interesting. If I go to either, I'll probably go to the 86 one. How they'll fill Cassinni's position intrigues me more.

jay_wick said...

I am sure that the newly seated D86 candidates will comply with the existing BOE policies about how to fill vacancies -- they'll be accepting applications from the community and then selecting the most qualified. That will likely take a month or so.

Hopefully both D86 and D181 will place less emphasis on the appointment of a hierarchy for the BOE than in ensuring that they are organized for efficiency. Too often the agenda for either district has been overly lengthy and needlessly filled with items that result in no action being taken -- not surprising when the folks that set those agendas were not really looking out for the best interests of the learners and majority of the community. Even items that do impact the classroom can and should be relegated to traditional committee meetings. Both districts should use inexpensive technology to make video of those meetings widely accessible.

The only other "interesting" item on the agenda for the D181 meeting scheduled for the new BOE is Dr. White's encouragement (in the Superintendent's report...) for the BOE to provide some guidance for "next steps" regarding technology as a follow-on to the community meetings that took place with the cooperation of the Foundation.

I believe public comment could help set the tone for future directions...

Anonymous said...

I attended last night's board meeting and was appalled to learn that the digital learning expert that is being paid $67,000 had been audiotaped badmouthing a parent who attended the first parent presentation on April 21.

Here is the weblink address for the video taken of the presentation (Go to Marker 1:17:31 (approximately) and listen closely for 5 minutes:

Let's hope the new BOE does the right thing and terminates his contract after phase two. Here is a comment I just submitted on the Digital Learning Initiative Survey available on the D181 website for people who attended any of the digital learning presentations. I doubt very much that my comments will ever see the light of day if the results are published to the community:

"I found it extremely unprofessional that the digital learning "expert" badmouthed any one in the audience by calling them a "trouble maker" and "an A--" over and over again during the first parent presentation. I heard the parent make a public comment about this unprofessional behavior during the 5/4/15 board meeting and then went and listened to the full audiotape of the first parent presentation to hear for myself if the parent was telling the truth. He was and it is utterly unacceptable that a $67,000 paid consultant would speak in such a manner about anyone in the audience. And then to admit that he was told to change his presentation, that we are a tough crowd and he needs to do what the customer wants proves he has been hired to implement Schneider's agenda. Plain and simple. The board should terminate the "expert's" contract and not proceed with phase two. Then the new board should fire Dr. Schneider. The administration has been caught red handed and should be embarrassed."

The Parents said...

We have just received a comment that leveled some very serious charges. We do not intend to publish any comment that makes accusations and is not written as a request that the BOE consider conducting an investigation of "allegations" of possible misconduct. If the reader wants to resubmit the comment in modified form, we will reconsider publishing it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Do public school consultants customarily make this much money for 2 talks? I haven't heard the talk, but It sounds like there was no report, that the information was not custimozed to our district, and that he didn't really present what he said he was going to. Why would he ever get paid more than a flat hourly rate that are commensurate with what certified teachers with PhDs get paid at the highest point on the pay scale? I can not imagine a consultant ever even getting paid as much as we pay the hourly rate of our district's contracted defense attorneys, yet this impolite person got much, much more than most government workers. $67,000 would have bought our district an additional salaried teacher for an entire year. Was he worth the money?

Anonymous said...

looks like Jukes' derogatory comments have been removed

Anonymous said...

The district administration has edited the Jukes presentation video. The tape now goes black and the words "personal comments edited out" appear on a black square on the screen. How's that for transparency! Outrageous!
Jukes is getting paid $67,000; White's pay: $235,000 plus benefits; Schneider's pay is at least $140,000 plus benefits. Who knows what kind of raises they just received.
Get the broom out; they all need to be swept away.

Yvonne Mayer said...

I am disappointed that the D181 administration has altered the videotape to delete comments that should cause everyone -- administrators, BOE members and community members and taxpayers -- concerns about whether or not the consultant in question should be allowed to continue with Phase 2 of the $67,000 consulting contract. I am troubled that the consultant would publicly call community members names and based upon his other comments I think it is reasonable to question whether he will be objective or simply do the bidding of certain administrators. After I learned of his "comments," I too watched the video and heard the comments. I am sure others did as well. Deleting his comments from the district website hasn't wiped the slate clean -- it's simply covered up words that should raise red flags for everyone. In fact, I would argue that the video is a public record of a public meeting and therefore it was inappropriate for the administration to alter it's content. As a public record of a public meeting, it is subject to the Freedom of Information Act and I hope someone in the community files a FOIA request seeking production of a the original, unaltered version.

Anonymous said...

As a parent and taxpayer, I continue to be disgusted by the decision making of our administration. From poor curriculum, to full inclusion, to a new proposal for two-tiered bus schedules, to highly paid consultants, we have an expensive dysfunctional mess on our hands. And what is the solution for the "digital learning expert" and his ill-mannered rambling diss of a parent in the district who took the time to show up to listen? Our administration decided to just edit the tape so we could no longer hear the "expert and his mean-spirited babbling that occurred in a public school building with community members. This tape should not have been altered.
Remember when presidential candidate Mitt Romney was caught on tape saying derogatory comments about certain voters? He forgot his microphone was on and went on a rant that was captured on tape and played over and over on all major networks for days. Did anyone in the news media just simply decide to edit out his comments? No. The video was shown in its original form.
Apparently, this form of transparency is too much to ask for in District 181.

Anonymous said...

I am Pleased to see the 181 board has made the Hinsdale Middle School building a priority. The Tribune had a front page article calling it a sick building 25 years ago. Work on the HVAC system was done at that time in an effort to fix the problem. As we learned, it wasn't fixed.
The problem is it was built in the seventies as an energy efficient building because energy costs were high. It has few windows deterring air loss, and fresh air is dependent on the ventilation system which never seems to have worked well. So it has a basic design flaw. When CO2, what we exhale, levels get high because of inadequate ventilation occupants can experience a variety of symptoms none of which are conducive to a good learning environment. We've also learned they was a mold problem.
All this combined with the facts laid out by the Facilities committee and teachers report that it has inadequate academic space makes me think we need a new building. Our children and teachers deserve better.
I would support a referendum for a new building.

Anonymous said...

If this district really expects the taxpayers to give them any more money, even to replace HMS, they are going to have to show me they are spending my current taxes appropriately. Since I do not see that, I would not support a referendum of any kind. The lack of appropriate services for my child is more of a priority to me than replacing an old building. Not that I do not believe that HMS needs to be replaced, but I do not trust this administration to do the right thing, since they have done such a poor job in doing the right thing in regards to my children's educational programs.

Anonymous said...

HMS is a perfect example of poor engineering and architecture. Student drop off, pick up, and parent /staff parking areas are a disaster. The interior of the building is loud, hot, congested and dysfunctional. Given all of these facts, I stillI completley agree that D181 has not given the community any reason to believe that the adminstrattion or Board of Education would spend our money prudently and responsiblty if they were to build a new Hinsdale Middle School.

The last 5 years showed us that administrators have not been able to meet basic educational requirements that they were supposedly experts in, (i.e. Common Core, Special Education violations, selecting new text books, etc), so how can we possiblly trust this same group of people to spend potentially $100 milliion dollars on a building? If they went $1million over budget for REPAIRS last year, and think spending $67,000 on Ian Jukes was reasonable, then I certainly do not trust them with my money anymore.
Remember a few years ago when Board Member Heneghan himself caught the error that saved our district hundreds of thousands of dollars? (I can't remember if it was $100,000 or 200,0000 - but it was significant).

When I sometimes drop my children off at HMS, the back up extends practically to the Hinsdale traintracks and creates such a traffic nightmare and safety concern that I sigh in relief that my children take the bus. What about how parents at HMS are forced to park on the SIDEWALK of that same dropoff lane? Not only is this dangerous for the children and adults who are supposed to use those "parking spots" as a sidewalk, but it also creates more back up onto southbound Garfield Avenue. The major shortage of parking for parents and staff is a huge problem. Why did the district not buy the neighboring lot that was recently turning into a beautiful commercial building? If people say they want a neighborhood school, they need to accept the fact that this school is not in a typical residential area of Hinsdale or Burr Ridge. This is a commerial area that should have been sold eons ago as many residents wanted. The sale of HMS to other commercial property usage would have given our community MORE than enough money to build a new middle school in a safer, more appropriate part of town. Back in the day, it was suggested that the school be builit on 55th and S. County Line Rd. where the bankrupt "Sedgewick Community" languishes like a ghost town. why wasn't the area north of Ogden, where the new cancer center is being built ever considered?

If your children don't go to HMS, or are too young yet, try driving by the drop off off lanes in front of the school on Garfield, as well as the drop off lane to the north of the school. The north entrance starts on Washington Street and will take you past the Village of Hinsdales parking lots, past the portable trailers that are classrooms, and have you exit onto congested Garfiled Avenue. What an exammple of not only poor, but dangerous, architectural planning for an elementary school filled with adolescents.

The lack of transperency that is mentioned over and over again in not only these posts, but all over this blog over the last 5 years is proof enough that D181 is not to be trusted with our children's educations. How can anyone expect them to be more responsible and transperent in the construction of a new school? They don't even claim to be certaified or qualified to be able to have those skills. At least they haven't claimed it yet. Probably becaause they want to to pretend that they know what they doing....until that is, they then claim that they suddently will to hire an overpriced consultant to help them oversee the plan. A supervisor is needed, but I have no faith in the ability of the district to pay a reasonable amount of money to such a person, and provide the approopriate transparency and oversight to such an endeavor.

Anonymous said...

The good news is that we now have a fully committed, intelligent, thoughtful and informed new BOE majority. They will not rubber stamp any more poor administrative decisions.

Anonymous said...

As a Madison parent I am looking forward to the change in our principal next fall. After reading the article in Hinsdale magazine about Mindy's retirement I can only wish her well at this point. When asked about Learning for All, she replied she supports differentiation and equated it to a child's birthday party where parents might place some 24 kids into small groups to make it manageable. I find this insulting because my child has not shown growth in reading and math for two years and he is not alone. The lack of growth on MAP in several grades is shocking.
So long, Mindy.