Comment of the Day:
Yvonne Mayer said...
As a member of the D181 Facilities Committee, I was in attendance at yesterday's committee meeting referenced by Yvonne Mayer.
I heard Chairman Clarin's comments that Yvonne is referencing about having discussions with " a couple of BOE members over the last couple of days" concerning the the new HMS plans. Unfortunately, I believe that Yvonne is mistaken in her analysis of what transpired and all of the HMS scenarios that the BOE requested are going to be presented to the BOE on Feb. 8, as well as Option G ...the newest iteration that conceptually is estimated to cost $65 million.
As a previous BOE member & 21/2 year President of the D181 BOE, I need to point out that, in my opinion, Chairman Clarin probably did not violate the letter of the law of the Open Meetings Act when he spoke one to one with "a couple of Board members" to give them current information concerning the new HMS situation and to ascertain their feelings, and possibly questions, on the issue. In the "old days" when there was no texting and Internet (when Facilities Committee member and former D181 BOE member & president Mike Woerner & I were on the D181 BOE,) it was not unusual for BOE members to seek out information or clarification on an issue from the superintendent & each other on a one to one phone call. There weren't any decisions made then just information sought & given. I genuinely believe that is what occurred when Gary spoke with "the couple of BOE members." The Facilities Committee will make a recommendation to the BOE about the proposed structure of the new HMS at the Feb. 8 BOE meeting, as will the Finance Committee make a financial recommendation as to how to structure the potential bond sale if the referendum passes. I can tell you that after almost 3 years of examination of district facilities, both functional and academic adequacy, the Facilities Committee will be recommending the current Option G, which could cost $65 million. And, I say COULD COST because until the absolute final drawings are complete and the BIDDING PROCESS occurs, the absolute final price tag for a new HMS Option G won't be exactly known. We could experience a great bidding process and the bids could come in under budget, as they did in the past for some of our past renovations, additions and new buildings in D181. I know this happened because I was on the BOE then, as was Mike Woerner.
What the Facilities Committee will recommend to the BOE is a conceptual drawing that includes specific aspects that are current standards and that will solve the identified HMS problems. As a committee, we decided this yesterday. At the Feb. 8 meeting, hopefully, the entire BOE will embrace our committe's recommendation. OMG, our committee has left no stone unturned...I don't know what more we could have done before making this recommendation. We even toured Hubble Middle School in Warrenville last week to view the most currently built middle school in our geographic area. Ideas from Hubble have been incorporated into the HMS Option G. It was enlightening to see a current middle school that meets the needs of students! And, I have to say, Hubble does not have "bells & whistles," but it meets the needs of 21st century middle school students! Doesn't D181 want to espire to do just that???
Don't monkey around. Go right to the AG's office. This is yet another example of backdoor meetings.
The problem goes beyond what Ms. Mueller describes. This was not just a chain of conversations or "information seeking," as she seems to characterize it. Clarin said that "we'd" [the board] like to move forward with the $65M option.
Though he attempts to back-peddle by claiming to be just one board member, his representation as to what the board decided is clear. And there was no publically noticed meeting wherein that decision was made. End of story!
An administration and board, armed with almost endless resources, who cannot put together a decent curriculum cannot be trusted to build a new school. Heck, they couldn't even get the trailers attached to HMS on a timely basis. The continued waste, incompetence and folly ends with the voters.
D181 needs to earn our trust before it deserves our vote. A good start would be for the board to employ the pin sweeper to rid the administration of the current bunch of know nothings, and hire competent administrators with expertise in curriculum.
I agree with Ms Mueller that this is not likely an open meetings act violation. We should focus all of our efforts on the very real issues facing the district.
Ms Mueller, thank you for your service on the facilities committee. I have never seen Hubble Middle School and probably never will. My children went to Clarendon Hills Middle. Many of us are struggling with the cost differential per SF and per student of CHMS and the proposed HMS. This difference is far greater than the cost of construction inflation. That school was not a simple build either due to the water retention issues associated with the land CHMS was built on. As you know, this community loves to complain about everything ( slight sarcasm) but I have not heard any serious complaints about the design, construction, or quality of CHMS. Most of us think it is a good looking, functional building that Clarendon Hills and the larger community is happy with. Don't feel like you have to drop everything and respond to my query, but respectfully, how do answer the question of why is this proposed new building so much more expensive than CHMS?
Mrs. Mueller: It doesn't matter what you believe happened.
Mr. Clarin is the same BOE member who promised not to be involved in district matters that could impact him and his wife financially since his wife is a D181 teacher. He negotiated the past teachers' contract. Mr. Clarin doesn't seem to value transparency.
Mrs. Mueller, you need to talk to the parents of gifted and special needs children, the parents who pulled their children from D181 schools, the parents who moved from D181 so their children could get a decent education and the parents of average children who had to hire tutors for their children because they realized their children were not being taught what they needed to know.
Until we have a new superintendent, my friends and I will never voluntarily spend one more cent on any ideas supported by the current administration or the BOE.
2:01 and Yvonne Mayer,
I voted for Yvonne Mayer. I appreciate her time, dedication, and leadership. I agree with 99% of what she says and does. However, I honestly think we should let this go. Board Members, village trustees, etc. discuss things outside of meetings. It is not illegal. Clarin even publicly stated that he had talked with other board members. I don't like the guy, but if he is running around holding secret meetings, why would he announce it publicly?
D181 is a mess. We need a new superintendent, we need new curricula, we need better differentiation and learning for all students. We need to bring back gifted programs. We need more attention paid to special ed students. Oh by the way, we likely need a new HMS at some point. The state will be cutting the money they send us, yet the unfunded mandates from Springfield and Washington will continue.
I truly believe most posters here are sincere and truly want better schools and better accountability. Those that favor the status quo will point to this blog and diminish us and call us a bunch of crazy cranks.
Let's stay focused on the issues that matter.
I agree it was poor judgement by the BOE Chair, but let it go and focus on the very large concrete issues in front of us.
3:06, I couldn't agree with you more. Let's focus on the significant issues.
Because Board Members or city officials discuss things outside of meetings, doesn't make it right or legal. There are legitimate reasons for the Open Meetings Law.
This is another example of the BOE and administration thumbing their noses at the public.
Mrs. Mayer, thank you, for your diligence.
I just listened to the entire Facilities Committee discussion referenced by Mrs. Mayer. I have to agree with her that what took place smacks of bad process, even if it might not violate the OMA (which it probably does). Here is my problem with Mr. Clarin. He took it upon himself to STOP the architects from substantively discussing all of the lower cost options. He said he had spoken to 2 board members in the last 2 days and the board had approved $65 million as the target number for an option. He shouldn't have said that. It simply wasn't true. They approved that amount only for the referendum ballot language and then directed the committee to go back and generate cheaper options. To Ms. Vorobiev's and Ms. Garg's points made at prior board meetings, $65 million on the ballot didn't mean that the school would cost that much or that that bonds in that amount needed to be sold.
Unfortunately for Garg and Vorobiev and other board members who stated at the last board meetings that they wanted the final costs brought down, Mr. Clarin has now spoken for them and said that in fact $65 million is the number. Once he said that, the whole approach of the facilities committee changed and the assumption was that the only real options to consider were those that cost $65 and that maybe in the final cost out, the price might be lower. Comments that followed from all committee members were only focused on $65 million options. The committee repeatedly stated that $65 was the option to pursue. No real discussion took place on the cheaper options or on the laughable pros and cons list that someone had generated on the lower cost options. But worst still was the fact that at the last minute (since they were added to board docs after the powerpoint presenting Options C, D, and E) 2 new $65 million options -F and G - were added by the architects that had a third floor option. Why this last minute change? Some discussion took place about how to convince the village and 3rd street neighbors to accept the third floor option and it was frankly, downright offensive. Cursing, joking about old 3rd street neighbors who no longer live there, talk about massaging the message given to the village, etc. were all part of the discussion. It was so disappointing to listen to how this committee laughed their way to selecting Option G that will cost $65 million.
Let's hope when this recommendation is presented to the BOE on February 8, along with White's representations that "due diligence" resulted in this recommendation, that saner board members really scrutinize what really led to this recommendation. Let's not forget that less than two months ago, the price tag was going to be approximately $45 million. Then it went up to $73 and back to $65 and in a two week span. Smart and rational and financially savvy community members need not look beyond that to conclude that this is not a plan that the community should support at this time.
Let's not kid around. If the designs are for a $65 million school, then that's what it's going to cost. It won't be cheaper. Remember. the selected firm's original design cost went up 55% after a construction firm costed it out. Now the new options are targeted to cost $65 million. Really? And you think we believe that number won't actually be higher? Ha Ha.
Letting go of rules and protocol is how organizations begin to slide down a slippery slope towards corruption. If this were a first for Clarin, then I have a feeling Yvonne would have overlooked it. Is his behavior acceptable? No. Should he be chastised for it? Yes. Nip behavior like this in the bud before it becomes the norm. Time for a red card and a time out, Mr. Clarin.
Part One of Two
I know Mr. Clarin and he takes his role on the BOE seriously, he has been serving on the BOE long enough to understand the requirements for compliance with Illinois Open Meetings. I similarly believe Ms. Mayer is very much aware of the often too informal manner in which several steps toward the current referendum have been handled.
These things do not bode well for a solution that is respectful of the reality facing the district.
I fear that too many of the important decisions regarding what are the most critical aspects for the building that needs to serves the long term interest of all stake-holders in the district have been shunted aside in an effort to meet an artificial election deadline. At least one long serving BOE member seems to simply want finality instead of a solution that has broad support.
I have heard nearly no comments from parents of the children in the 3rd grade and younger that would be the first beneficiaries of a replacement for HMS. The various "high cost" spaces that came from the "wish list" driven by the faculty were not widely circulated for feedback from the broader community; whatever brief discussion of potential financial support for such things was similarly shutdown and then those things axed. Is that really the best way to get a building that will last longer than the modest four decades of service eked out of the existing HMS?
While our community does not much resemble the sort of "Bedford Falls" where one dedicated person can single handedly stave-off the miserly bank owner, organize recycling drives and architect a combination dance floor / swimming pool, I do know that there are lots of folks that dedicate time to the Lions Club(s), Rotary, Chamber of Commerce and the similar civic groups. Have any of those groups been other than uncommitted to HMS being a pressing priority?
While I am not yet ready to say that I actively oppose the current proposal, my greatest fear is that even if there are sufficient voters to approve the issuance of $65,000,000.00 in bonds, the potential for costly operational issues, overruns, and delays to negatively impact the education of children that might not enter high school until 2020 or beyond is a sobering thought. When one looks at pictures of kids back in 1976 happily wearing their bell bottoms and granny dresses in the newly opened HMS one cannot help but wonder when exactly did HMS become obsolete and what ensures that the same fate will not loom over its replacement? If the process back then was no better than the process that surrounds this rushed proposal how can we afford not to step back and ensure that this is really the best solution?
While I respect everyone's comments, I stand by my allegations. As an update, only Richard Giltner responded me informing me that he is not on the committee and was not present at yesterday's meeting, although he has made every effort to attend as many committee meetings as possible. Silence from Dr. White.
Part Two of Two
I well know of Wheaton's Hubble Middle School. It was completed for the 2009-10 school year after the $58,000,000.00 referendum was approved in 2008. Friends that live in Warrenville have children in attendance. It is actually significantly smaller than the 1900's era building that was once was Wheaton's main high school. The shiny new facility accomodates 1,078 students in 191,000 sq ft, is LEED Gold certified, sited on a lush 18 acre campus and includes many things that have already been axed from our more costly proposed facility -- Facilities Where Everybody Benefits | Building Design & Construction "The community has access to a 500-seat auditorium, two gymnasiums, a fitness center (shared with the park district), a library, an art room with flex space, and a cafeteria. “We couldn’t ignore the needs of the community,” says Brosnan. “Their input during the programming discussion was very important.”
The old school was along Roosevelt and the decision to relocate had some challenges -- http://asbointl.org/asbo/media/documents/news-publications/sba-archive/2010/may.pdf A decade of discussions about solving these issues culminated in a planning study, which revealed that building a new facility would be a much more budget and student-centered solution than renovating the existing one. ... the facility not only testifies to the success achieved when all stakeholders participate to create a program-driven school, but it also sets an example for other districts, for public building agencies and corporations, and for the 1,000 students it serves. ... “There was nary a stakeholder, from the board of education to the central office staff, who didn’t have an opportunity for input.” ...The architects helped District 200 obtain a $135,000 sustainable design grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Vuk Vujovic, director of sustainable design at Legat Architects, says, “Grants like this one allow districts to explore sustainable design solutions, review cost-benefit scenarios, and consider energy-efficient building systems that they wouldn’t otherwise be likely to pursue.” At Hubble, the foundation grant helped fund building energy modeling, daylighting studies, and advanced building commissioning. The most exciting benefits of Hubble’s green elements are that they support the curriculum... Also, each house has self-contained special-education classrooms, as well as space for “pull out” and “pushed in” services. These areas can easily be expanded to full-size classrooms if the district’s needs change. Moreover, the collaboration zones will support a shift to a fully integrated special education process. “We just kept driving the staff and professionals to bring in the project on time and on budget, and they did.” Board members have received many positive comments from Hubble students. Johnson adds, “Our kids have a school designed around them.”
Why are there people in such a hurry to pay more and get less?
Thank you Mrs. Mayer for your passion, talents, and integrity.
Yes, thank you to Mrs. Mayer, but also thank you to jay_wick for providing us all with a model example of the way trustworthy districts build fiscally responsible and functional schools. A $58 million dollar school on 18 acres, with a 500 seat auditorium, 2 gyms, etc.. for over 1,000 children sounds like a much better deal than what we are being offered.
I'm confused about Jay Wick's statement about why pay more to get less. The article talks about Hubble's new home on roughly 18 acres with the old Hubble school residing in downtown Wheaton. The old school was used until the new school was built on the new site. The new Hubble school seems to have been built for $65 million over 5 years ago without the challenges the HMS site poses along with the need to make sure the current building is usable. I'm not sure how realistic it is to assume we are comparing apples to apples. construction costs have gone up and not down. I feel like things are being blown out of proportion to give the appearance of cost inflation and discredit the effort that has been put into planning a new HMS. Here's another article about Hubble. Lots of walking tracks per previous article provided, 2 full size soccer fields (article below) etc. "A facility group of about 15 staff members - including teachers, secretaries and custodians - offered suggestions about what should go into District 200's first new building in eight years. The result was space tailor-made to meet current and future program needs."
Thank you Mr. Wick for your thoughtful comments. We can now see how the $65 million is over the top for what has been proposed for a new HMS. It would have been nice for our administrators to go after any grant money too, as did the Warrenville staff, to lessen the burden on taxpayers. But then it would mean our administration would have to do some actual grant writing work, which is much harder to do than just issuing a check from the district accounts. $50,000 here, $100,000+ there, who cares? It's not the administration's money, right?
I continue to be disgusted with the conduct of Clarin and his arrogance. He's been a steadfast supporter of two failed administrations, Schuster and White, all the while his spouse works at HMS. This is crazy. But it's reality, unfortunately.
All we can do at this point is use the power of our vote. Thank you, Ms Mayer, for your dedication to our district and for shedding a light on what is really going on.
We can clearly do better than what is being offered, and I will be voting "no."
Here's some perspective on CHMS as compared to other middle schools being built at the time: "In fact, the school, on Chicago Avenue, will cost taxpayers about $198 per square foot, 58 percent more than the average cost of a middle school in the Midwest, according to School Planning & Management, which publishes an annual national school construction report."
"The new Clarendon Hills Middle School will boast myriad amenities: a state-of-the-art applied-technology lab, computer and video hookups in every classroom and a "cafetorium," a combination auditorium and cafeteria connected by a stage.
But the school also will have a not-so-impressive feature: a $17 million price tag--32 percent higher than what Hinsdale School District 181 voters were told it would cost."
The way I read into jay_wick's comment was that at least the Warrenville facilities committee took the time to explore other viable options, such as a new location. Since tearing down and building a new, downtown HMS is so fraught with challenges and expenses, the notion that no better, less complicated, more economical properties exist is comical. The current location of HMS is prime for downtown shopping, condos or parking. So why don't we have an appraisal of the current HMS property and consider selling it? This is obviously a more logical option, but it was never proposed or offered to the community in surveys or any meetings. Contrary to claims, parents do not like the idea of their children walking across the train tracks during busy morning traffic hour. Nor do parents like to deal with that congested, dangerous, southbound car pool drop off lane every day. Throw in the fact that southbound Garfield Ave., right before the entrance to the drop off lane, is blocked with school buses AND the cab of a huge, red delivery truck every morning, and add in the detail that you are guaranteed to NEVER find a legal parking spot within 2 blocks of HMS during school hours, WHY does anyone want the school to face problems like that again?
Even if the property is valued, conservatively, at $3-5 million, the committee owes the community, village and park districts that information. I realize that these people are volunteering for free, but how dare they never provide the costs, sizes, and locations of any other potential properties? At the very least, the committee owed us plans of how they could immediately solve this safety issue by tearing out and repaving the drop off lane and creating more parking. This should have been done immediately after the referendum failed ages ago. Student, teacher, and driver safety has been blatantly ignored every day for y e a r s , yet this solution would probably have cost less than the price of Ian Jukes to give another generic, 2 hour technology talk. Come on, committee. Did you really think everyone in this town just fell off the turnip truck on our way to the state fair? If you want our money, please put forth a little more effort to convince us that your plan is logical. Just because you volunteer your time for the community does not mean that you are allowed to force your ideas on us.
I keep hearing administrators and certain facility members claim that the survey told us that parents and residents liked the location of the current HMS and would support a new school. Hello....no one was offered any other options! Those survey responses should have been thrown out. If we weren't given any other viable options, the question is faulty. Can't believe we paid tens of thousands of dollars for ECRA to give us this bad information. If we don't sue them for their work quality, at the very least, ECRA should be forced to re-do the survey....but only if more options are presented to residents.
We certainly will never find 18 acres, but we don't need it. There are numerous locations available that would accommodate numerous options. All we we need is an honest person with a background in real estate and property appraisal to provide us with this vital information. (Who that person would be is the $65 million dollar question.) Before we get trapped into a one-sided solution, other options have to be explored, priced out, and presented. The fact that Gary Clarin prevented the committee and the public from even hearing the lower cost options is outrageous. He should be kicked off the committee for doing that. Over the last 6 months, residents should, at the very least, have been presented with the costs and benefits of a multitude of options.
Finally, if you are familiar with Warrenville, you are aware that the property taxes there are significantly lower than those in Hinsdale. And, BTW, building costs have not gone up in 5 years, but our property taxes have skyrocketed while our property values have dropped. It is inconceivable that we still do not know the current value of the property that HMS sits on. Without that basic information, or, the cost of ANY other viable locations, the survey results are skewed and invalid. Save the cost of ballot brochures and more importantly, wasted time and don't take this poorly planned D181 bond plan to the ballot. Come back next year with some more viable options, a new administrator, and then, maybe, you can try to earn our trust back.
Well it's recruiting season for the Hinsdale Caucus. Hope people step up to be section chairs and volunteer their time for the four nominating committees (two year commitment per Hinsdalean article). This leads to the bigger question of how many people from this blog and community will actually run for the board of education and speak up openly about their concerns. Unfortunately the selection process for the four nominating committees is a random drawing so one would have to take that risk.
One thing that may hamper moving HMS to a different site is the internet connection. The district's one and only internet connection go to HMS, and then HMS is connected to each of the other 8 buildings. If HMS is moved, we'd have to move 8 different fiber optic lines to this position. When fiber optics were first installed between HMS & the other buildings in 2007-2008, this took millions of dollars of materials, digging, labor, etc. Plus, the logistics of getting the permits. They needed permits to use power line poles, to dig underneath the railroad tracks, and just the regular village permits. So much of the money saved by building in a new place would be used made up by having to move the networking cables.
In reading Jay Wick's fine comments, it seems like the Village of Warrenville and the school district worked together to achieve goals for both parties. We have yet to try that:
1) Have we talked to VOH regarding sharing a parking structure that will benefit our downtown as well the employees of HMS? Is the village willing to kick in a few bucks? The parking garage in LaGrange has revitalized the downtown restaurant scene dramatically. It is only 2 stories tall and is set back off the street and is quite busy on nights and weekends.
2) Have we talked to VOH regarding the community use of a large auditorium for performances and how much it might be used? Do we know how often the community house auditorium is used and what it rents for? Would some of the local acting communities ( BAM, etc) be interested in using a large auditorium several times a year and would they pay for that use? We have the "Uniquely Thursdays" downtown during the summer. What about concerts, etc. at the new middle school a couple of times per month the rest of the year? If you sell beer and wine, Hinsdale will support it!
3) Have we held substantive discussions with the Village of Hinsdale over the height and number of stories of the proposed middle school? The current school is on 3 levels and everyone just assumed we would replace it with a two story building. Variances are granted based on the quality of the plans and community input. We did not want 3 story condos downtown, but a 3 story school on a 6 acre property with other amenities such as parking might fly. The 3 story CHMS looks great and the foundation, roof, plumbing, electric costs per SF are lower in a 3 story than a 2 story building. We also want to maximize open space in our downtown area.
4) Have we talked with any other owners of large parcels ( churches) that might want to get bought out or some type of trade? Behind the scenes, many enrollments are declining and some maybe looking to shed older, large buildings that were built decades ago.
5) Are we certain that all of our elementary schools are at capacity or will be at capacity for years to come? Our enrollment has declined over the past decade due to demographics and possibly private schools. What if you consolidated our 5 Hinsdale elementary schools into 4, and built the new HMS on one of those locations, you get your middle school away from downtown and you operate one less building. You first MUST get an appraisal for the current site.
6). Have we seriously talked to Butler and our friends in OakBrook about some type of consolidation? Monroe educates a bunch of Oak Brook kids. Hinsdale Central educates most of Oak Brook. Why are we both operating separate middle schools?
This project desperately needs leadership. All stones have not been turned over. Sacred cows have yet to be slain. This has been rushed to meet a false deadline. Most of my ideas are just spitball. But I do not believe we have substantially tried to discuss a merger with Butler, substantially tried to rationalize all of our physical assets, and substantially tried to work with Hinsdale on parking and height issues.
8:13 right on, We all want to complain, but we have to elect citizens to represent us that are fair, honest, intelligent, and transparent. Too many times, nobody wants to serve on the caucus, nobody good wants to run, and 20% of voters turn out.
We have seen our elementary schools decline for a bunch of reasons, but fundamentally we have elected very weak school boards over the past 15 years. There are some good people on each board, but they never seem to get a majority. Weak boards end up hiring charmers like Schuster and White that say all the academically correct buzz words, but there is no substance behind them.
I served on the caucus some years back. It can be a tedious process at times, but that is the price of democracy. For those of you that think the caucus is "rigged" go down and join the caucus and you can "unrig" it. It is literally that simple.
Potential candidates, please avail yourself to the caucus process. 20 years ago, we were blessed with more outstanding candidates than we could slate. Of the three candidates we did not slate, one became a village trustee, one ran and won for D181, and one ran later for D86. So the process has benefits for candidates and the community.
9:58: that's a few good questions.
If we do rebuild on the current site, a multi-story parking garage would be useful. Have it 2-3 stories above grade (depending how tall HMS is) plus underground level. Have the spots on one level be "HMS Staff parking only" on weekdays between 6 AM and 4PM or something. Outside those times, the village is free to use. Have the village lend some money for the construction costs, and then the extra parking spaces would pay off the loan in a few years.
As for number 5, that might be an idea. I realize this won't be a popular idea, but maybe the district could look into tearing down some of the elementary schools which were't rebuilt in 2000 (Oak, Elm, Lane, Monroe) and do one school. While extremely expensive, this would save the district some money since there'd be less principals ($100,000+ per principal per year), less maintenance, etc. Plus, these buildings would probably have to be torn down and rebuilt eventually.
I totally agree with those who say we need to fix the administration & curriculum first. If/when that ever happens, however, having to maintain 7-8 schools would be a lot easier than 9.
With 6, that's an intriguing idea. We could benefit from the sales tax that OakBrook Mall provides. I just checked, and Maercker school district also feeds into Hinsdale Central. A part of Gower can feed into either Central or South. Maybe we can consolidate with them as well? This would save the residents some money since we could also consolidate the superintendent & other administrative positions. Perhaps Central & South could split districts, and Central can consolidate with all its feeder districts. The logistics and upfront costs to combine our infrastructure would be a nightmare, but the costs savings and unity of the curriculums could help.
I agree 10:19, we need fair, honest, intelligent people who can accurately identify valid complaints, and people just complaining. As we saw, there were parents who complained about how their students weren't in the advanced class, so the district decided to advance ALL students, even those who weren't ready. We saw how that ended.
The fact that our elected board of education decided to go to referendum given the state of our district should be enough proof for all of us to get involved in the community caucus and elections. Anyone with common sense could see months ago that we do not have the kind of superintendent and administration that is qualified to be in the jobs they currently have, let alone run a referendum effort. HMS needs to be replaced eventually, but it sure isn't the time to do it now. Because of poor leadership, we now have virtually no discussion about what is going on in the schools academically. The Learning Committee sputters along with no real impact on White's decisions. Kids are zoning out in classrooms, but no one is addressing this problem because all the talk is now about the referendum.
We have to get involved, especially before the next board of education election to get members who will hire quality administrators.
Part One of Two
Completely agree that there are lessons to be learned from the PROCESS that Wheaton-Warrenville used to not just get a new building but a BETTER SCHOOL. I have heard very few ways that the massive costs of associated with this endeavor will actually benefit students.
Some of the comments about CHMS are so misinformed I don't know if I should laugh or cry. Is there someone suggesting cost overruns are something to be proud of? Would it surprise that writer that the middle cost per sq ft national median is now $221.82. Far below the estimates for the HMS replacement. Oh, and the median sq ft per student: 173.3 http://www.ncef.org/pubs/spm_2014.pdf
Should we really focus on the "features" of CHMS? The "tech prep" lab is just a regular classroom that is equipped with some work stations that nearly every student has said are rather dated (they very well be the same ones that have been in CHMS since its opening...) and the same modules are also part of the current HMS, no special space there either. Despite massive donations of shiny tech objects to the elementary schools through parent fund raisers, both middle schools are an embarrassing statement of how badly our district does technology. We can even expand that to cover the sadly outdated stoves students are using for Consumer Sciences and similar areas that if not quite neglected certainly have not received much attention.
The comment about how costly it might be to relocate the fiber optic links from HMS is another classic bugaboo of the kind associated with the type of homeowner that is all too common in our district, namely someone willing to pay big money for outdated technology because they are too intimidated to explore alternatives. There are LOTS of options for high speed connectivity -- it may very well now be cheaper to rely on a firm like Comcast or a competitor to supply a high speed link to each of the district's facilities. More and more firms are eliminating their "data centers" for connections "in the cloud" which results in racks of servers on site being replaced by just a tiny closet with a bundle of cable. That might be a solution that would be a very cost effective alternative to equipping a massive and quickly outdated space that only takes away from more direct educational uses.
We need folks that are not just willing to do more than dream big with a wish list, but have the courage to make changes that are forward looking, not merely accommodative of archaic ways.
Part Two of Two
While traditionalists might prefer HMS be on the same site, this is another of those ossified ideas that strikes me as part of bigger problem about why otherwise smart people in the district make bad decisions. The sorts of old-timey-looking facades that the architects were encouraged to produce for the site are far more costly than more efficient modern exteriors. Not enough people want to "think outside the box". Consider this -- Every morning I drive past the largest chunk of privately owned open land in Hinsdale / Oak Brook. The Institute in Basic Life Principles is now largely a publisher of "home schooling texts", that could operate out of any underutilized industrial space https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institute_in_Basic_Life_Principles. Dr. Gothard's problems have been well documented. The Amling's site is another crumbling reminder of bad planning in Hinsdale instead a welcome to the area. The benefits of considering a new middle school near Ogden seems never to have been on the radar of anyone. Also not on the radar of those that work for the district is the push to consolidate government units. https://www.illinois.gov/ltg/issues/localgovernments/Documents/Local%20Government%20Consolidation%20and%20Unfunded%20Mandates%20Task%20Force%20Final%20Report.pdf The similarities between our district and neighboring D53 are striking in terms of demographics and performance. The recent failed attempt to build new facilities in D53 could be an impetus to merge. With a combined district and state of the art facilities the benefits to students and residents in the merged district would be undeniable -- modern learning spaces, unique setting, lowest cost for all...
The "trim it back" mindset that I have seen over and over really hurts our district. The facilities committee said NO to a theater, planetarium, observatory, greenhouse or other "wow factor" learning space. Now they are even faced with slashing a skylight, whoops, I mean "atrium glazing system". How is this thing going to cost so much? Maybe because this will be last gasp of the overpaid insiders...
Back when my kids were starting kindergarten and I first heard the dolts who doomed HMS to its watery disaster they were bad mouthing modern LEED oriented HVAC plans. The BOE choose that idiotic "energy performance contrator" as an end run around more transparent bidding processes. Had that BOE dumped those shortsighted plans and instead taken on the task of building a smart replacement they might have been able to take advantage of one of the true bargain periods in modern construction. Right about the time that Hubble Middle School was wrapping up the well respected Turner Building Cost Index showed massive declines of nearly 9% http://www.facilitiesnet.com/designconstruction/article/Turner-Construction-Building-Construction-Costs-Decline-in-Second-Quarter-2009-Facilities-Management-Design-Construction-News--10921
Now one must ask: Is it better to lock in construction costs at all time highs or step back, do the hard work to find wider support for bigger plans in an environment that very likely will shortly become far more competitive? http://www.ibtimes.com/recession-looming-heres-what-it-means-you-your-money-2270541
If one looks at what would be the combined EAV of D53 and D181 the benefits ought to crush any arguments from those that fret over property taxes --
The proposal to replace HMS is not "visonary"; it is redecoration at ghastly overinflated scale. Like window dressing on abandoned buildings, do really want to support a classical looking artifaces instead of much needed overhaul?
Jay Wick, this is 8:36, the person who committed on moving the fiber optic lines. You are correct, we can move many services to the cloud. I admit, I did forget about that; I'll own up to that. However, with the recent release of student directory information, how secure are these cloud services? I know that the district uses Google for student e-mails, but I'm weary of having all our student information on some company's servers rather than district-owned servers. How do we know that they aren't selling student info for profit? I'm hoping that I'm just paranoid.
This will be my last post on this blog. I feel compelled to respond to a few of the above comments and then that's it.
First of all, John, the critical aspects of a new middle school were not "shunted aside" when the several iterations of a possible new HMS were developed. The architect knows the "must have's" in a 21st century design, the HMS teachers reviewed the "must have's" and the Facilities Comm., consisting of a current HMS teacher, both D181 middle school principals, a retired D181 teacher, two previous teachers, one with both middle school and high school experience and the other with high school experience, a parent who is an architect, a parent who has multiple engineering degrees, another parent who is an engineer, and a parent who worked in the area of facilities for a major US company, worked diligently to identify all the necessary aspects required in a 21st century middle school. Your criticism in this area is totally unwarranted and misguided due to lack of knowledge of what occurred and is occurring. Make your criticisms after you have reviewed the current recommended plan. Anyone that has ever been involved in a building project such as this ( and Mike Woerner and I were involved in ALL THE OTHER D181 renovations, additions and new buildings) knows a certain process is followed. There are certain criteria identified to be included in the building, conceptual designs are created, financing for the project is pursued ( a referendum occurs), the selected design is fine-tuned and the design goes out to bid. I will totally, honestly admit that I wish the process had been a bit slower, but I like to take my time when making critical decisions. However, having said that, I honestly feel that the recommended design is excellent. We worked very hard and rather quickly, but the outcome is worthy of our D181 students. YOU who criticize everything stop sitting behind your computers anonymously and get involved. I am on the committee interviewing candidates for the D181 position of Asst. Supt. of Learning. The D181 curriculum is a mess, I know it. But,if you think leveling all these criticisms and you personally doing nothing to change things is going to help....well, it won't. A new head of D181 SpEd will need to be hired. Volunteer to be on the interview committee for this position. Get involved. You develop the broad support. You volunteer to be on the Hinsdale Village Caucus. You run for the BOE.
And, to answer Jan. 29 9:58 am's questions: 1. Yes, and discussion with the Village of Hinsdale is continuing 2. Yes 3.Yes, and it is ongoing 4. It has been investigated and there is none available 5. We have demographic studies showing future enrollment 6. It can't/won't ever happen!
Last thought, if the referendum for a new HMS does not pass, maybe a lottery should be held to see which D181 middle schoolers go to CHMS and which go to HMS. Or, maybe the district should rotate the attendance sites that go to CHMS and HMS. That would only be fair, wouldn't it???????
9:58, I love your ideas, especially since I have repeatedly made some of the same recommendations to the administration and BOE. I have also specifically mentioned these options in online and phone surveys. Whenever I listened to board meetings or read distinct websites abut the new HMS process, however, none of these ideas were ever mentioned or offered as possibilities. You wil not find any specific, definitive evidence why none of these options were not included in the surveys.
A few months ago I contacted the financial department of ISBE and inquired about how consolidation works. Financially, it made sense. I spoke to somewhere there who directed me to an ISBE webpage that thoroughly described how the state of Illinois and Regional Offices of Education are currently pushing for more school consolidation - especially in neighboring districts of less than 3 schools. ISBE and the governor are advocating this in order to help address Illinois' budget crisis. In my letter to the D181 board, I pointed out that Oak Brook Butler 53 only has 2 schools in it. One elementary and a middle school, Butler Midle School less than a mile away. I mentioned that this school is also a HCHS feeder school, yet they only have a student population of 160. Yes, only 160 students. If the state created some incentive for Oak Brook's middle school to absorb at least some (Lane or Monroe schools?) students to Bulter, it would immediatley allow a new HMS project to save millions of dollars. Of course, Oak Brook won't want our kids. Their middle schoolers are reaping the benefits of one of the lowest teacher:student ratios around. They are the number one elementary school in the state. However, if their children are permitted to attend Hinsdale's High School, why shouldn't our children attend their underpopulated middle school?
I asked the BOE to invite Darlene Rusciti, the superintendent of the DuPage County ROE to come speak to us at a Board Meeting last month, but apparently no one on the board liked the idea. Not sure because no one ever responded to me. Ms.Rusciti called me and oferred to speak about the process and what it entails, but no one on the board or our administration bothered to follow through, or even mention this option in public.
Could I have invited Ms. Ruscitti on my own, or started a grass roots campaign to begin this process? Of course. But the fact of the matter is that for some reason, my requests to the board were completely ignored. My children are almost done with 181 and will not benefit from attending Butler or a newly built HMS, but it was disturbing to know that the board, which includes members of the facilities committee, has repeatedly chosen to ignore so many, perfectly viable, cost effective options without even having a real reason as to why. As mentioned by someone else, I am tired of being labeled "that person". I have helped, donated, paid my taxes, and participated in every survey. I attend as many meetings as I can, but just like every other person, my time is too valuable to waste on people who refuse to communicate.
Mrs. Mueller, thank you for what you do. I know you said this was your last post, but if I may ask: how many audience members do you have at facilities meetings? How many are HMS teachers? How many are parents or community members? You're totally right, not enough get involved besides posting on my blog. Although my job sometimes conflicts with the meeting times, I try to attend the various meetings, or at least listen to the podcast. I also talk to staff and administrators to know what's going on.
How can I volunteer to be on the committee to help select a new special education administrator? I would like to but haven't seen that information anywhere in any of the distinct emails or communications. From what I understand, the administration hand picks parents for duties like this. If we ever want this district to improve, the composition and qualifications of these section committees needs to change. The same old group of people and their friends has already selected enough rotten apples. Let's see how transparent this district really is by analyzing the way in which committees like these are formed.
I am bit bewildered.
With the moderated replies it is often hard to know which posts are in reply to others, but my point in sharing the features of Hubble Middle School was to highlight what aspects of the current HMS proposal will never be part of the experience for middle schoolers in this district if we continue down this path.
It is not my intent to denigrate the efforts of Ms. Mueller or any other volunteer. As she said, for the past five months they've met with lots of architects who all offered plans that would lead to the replacement of HMS. The more I think about how limited the benefits of the current proposal have become, the less certain I am that this really serves the long term interest of the community. The recent focus on paring back is all the more troubling if there were so many professionals that should have known that proposals in the $40M range were completely unrealistic. Perhaps the experience of those not familiar with the practices of public sector construction projects is now better informed as to how the unique political climate of Illinois escalates such things with no benefit to users.
I further might say that the attitude that "the experts know best" is what often leads to the bad solutions. I freely admit that I not a professional architect, but I have been teacher, and I have worked in many modern offices. I know what adds to the experience and what is fluff. I am also something of architecture buff, my family and I have visited Taliesin, Falling Waters, Oak Park, the Guggenheim and other works by Mr. Wright. While I am not qualified to draft plans for a new building I certainly can voice an opinion as to what contributes to a high quality building. Yesterday was the anniversary of the Challenger disaster. It was not an expert in the design of space vehicles that pinpointed the weak link to that failure, but a physicist with a simple demonstration -- Simple Experiment Showed the Inevitability of the Challenger Disaster. Perhaps if there more encouragements for bright amateurs and less reliance on experts we'd have better solutions.
Anyone that has listened to any of the recent BOE discussions of the replacement for HMS will know that I spoke out in favor of not cutting for parity's sake but making every effort to have whatever facility replaces HMS be better for all aspects of student learning. That included asking the principals of both CHMS and HMS to defend the unique features of each school -- Mr. Sonntag explained that kids in Clarendon Hills have access to the Park District tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and extensive jogging trails at Prospect Park and Mr. Pena explained that an all-weather field replacement for the field adjacent to HMS would allow students to get maximum usage of their more limited space. (Not sure if the all weather surface has been cut or not..).
I've said before and I'll say again -- at this time I am not inclined to join any band of know-nothings that would oppose any referendum, but if the only positives offered by supporters of the current winning design is that "it has all the must haves" that is faint praise for this proposal.
Dear Ms. Mueller.
Spare us all the passive/aggressive routine where you write that this is your last post, but then attack those who disagree with you as being uninvolved.
The fact is informed parents who have very good ideas about who should lead this administration are actively excluded from the very interviews and committees you are attending.
This blog exists precisely because the administration will not tolerate a scintilla of disagreement. They are above all critique, you see. And if you voice any dissention, you are labeled a troublemaker who can't join their reindeer games.
The only recourse we have left is our vote, public comments to the tone deaf board, and this space.
But you... you are already on the committee! Well, since you are already there, I hope you will echo what has been said by the numerous parents here. We are fed up with substandard curriculum, lack of rigor, and any semblance of a writing program.
If you won't do that, let me know when the next candidate interview is scheduled. I'm happy to show up to help vet the interviewees. I have a pretty good B.S. detector and haven't hired an incompetent yet. D181 cannot say the same.
The parents here can provide very specific examples of the poor curriculum/ poor administrative decisions over the past several years - many new/ or readers with young children may be very surprised.
5:38 Rudolf why don't you go make public comment at a board meeting next time instead of accusing well meaning community members of being passive aggressive. I doubt this is the best way to make a difference or any improvement.
Thank you Ann for admitting the curriculum is a MESS. Please tell the administration. For most of us posting here it is very painful to watch our kids losing all this time. They can't get it back. I'm also guessing that many of us have older children who benefitted from the older system-I'm one of those parents, and I can't believe all the stupid decisions that have been made over the past few years. I've written the BOE, attended meetings, met with teachers, principals, and Dr. White. The lack of response sums it up. They are NOT invested in this community. They are collecting their paychecks (that's fine), but show no passion/integrity. Riding the wave as long as they can. When you ignore a few of the amazing teachers we have, parents, data, -basically they have their OWN agenda. They hire all the professionals to conduct surveys that mean nothing, ignore parents with valid observations. Guess it's easy to do when your kid isn't affected by it. Pretty sad. Look at all the decent people that have left this district. This group isn't passionate about education. It's pretty insulting when they dismantle a great district just to "test things out(no more spelling tests, spelling test where kids type the words-yet they don't know how to type!)", "see what that program is about(Agile Mind awful pilot)", the premise that the MAP score is the almighty indicator (did they look at all the kids at Central that are doing GREAT -but their MAP score weren't always 98-99 (there's a whole bunch of them!!) ignoring all the years, effort, it took to create the old curriculum, tiers etc. So nonchalant.
How does anyone know that Rudolf hasn't already made public comment? Or written letters or spoken to the administration? I have a feeling he has, or else our reindeer friend wouldn't be so disgusted. Remember, all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names whenever he got up to speak at meetings or ask questions. They never let our poor Rudolf join in any of the reindeer committees. Rudolf has self respect, a life, and plenty of people who value his opinion. Why should he waste his time trying to convince bullies that he deserves a chance to participate in a game that has gone terribly awry? He has made some excellent points, all which I agree with.
I sure hope we don't have to wait until Christmas for Santa to show up and save the day. One of my kids will be at Hinsdale Central by then. Hopefully, Oak Brook Butler 53 will have consolidated with us by then, our current board will all be gone, and D181 administrators will all have big pieces of coal in their stockings.
Ho, Ho, Ho!
I would like to add my thanks to both Ann Mueller and Jay Wick (aka recent BOE candidate) for their recent comments. The D181 community is very lucky to have engaged and dedicated citizens like them who are willing to speak up on issues they have a passion for. Both of them have not just used this blog to express their opinions, but they have been in the public light for many years, actively speaking at board meetings, serving on committees or running or serving on the board. Both of their opinions, and those of others who have posted on this blog or spoken out at recent meetings, should be considered by the community as it educates itself on D181 issues.
I believe that everyone should have a right to express his/her opinions in any public or blog like forum and allow community members to consider what is being said, recognizing that there are usually no absolute right or wrong positions. On the issue of building a new HMS, there are so many issues -- not just whether a new building is needed vs. a renovated/expanded building, but also, how the district should be prioritizing all of the issues that impact students (curriculum, class size, foreign language offerings, full day kindergarten, teacher salaries, skill set and qualifications of current and future administrators) -- that D181 residents may reach different conclusions, and articulate valid justifications for their position. No one's discussion points should be shot down as crazy or out of line or simply wrong, because there are no absolute black or white answers.
For me, analysis of issues comes down to a review of the process and fiscal responsibility. Those are the lenses I generally use to determine my support or dissent on D181 issues. Other people use different lenses. We are all responsible for making individual decisions and when available, casting a vote (BOE election, referenda, village trustees, etc.). We all, I believe, want what we perceive to be in the best interests of D181 students. At the end of the day, no D181 issue will be the last D181 issue. There will always be a next one and we should all respect and work with each other to make D181 a better place. In the past, D181 issues (and D86 issues) have served to create divides in the community. Let's not let that happen again.
12:58: Your suggestion about holding a lottery to determine what middle school kids should go to if the referendum fails seems kind of threatening. CHMS parents and residents are not going to vote yes on the referendum if threats like this are made. The BOE would have to approve something this radical and there is no way our elected officials are going to do something so stupid that will split up families, neighborhoods and cause even more chaos to an already chaotic situation. D181's problems, curriculum and infrastructure, are not going to be solved with threats. So let's stop making them and move on to more constructive suggestions about what D181 administrators have identified as Plan B if the referendum fails. After all, some sort of Plan B should be in the works, since a new building wouldn't be ready for at least two years and current students at HMS deserve some immediate attention -- especially if its true that the portables aren't even properly heated. I heard one parent suggest last week that the cold portables are cold for a reason -- to incite parents and provide examples of the "----hole" that HMS has become. It would be sad to think that some of the problems this year at HMS were intentionally inflicted on the building to help create a support base for a new building, but honestly, nothing would surprise me anymore. I hope it's not true, but it does make one wonder how brand new portables could have inadequate heating and cooling systems.....
8:49 -- Good comment about whether a Plan B exists, in the event that the referendum fails. In this economy, referenda, especially those that are rushed, have a greater chance of failing than succeeding. So your question is valid about what Plan B is. Does anyone know if the BOE or the Administration (or any of the committees) have held substantive discussions on this, or are they all just waiting and crossing their fingers that they won't have to come up with one?
Plan B was discussed at the last board meeting. Admin recommended $5 mil worth of projects for HMS for the board to consider and prioritize.
Thank you 10:24. We have just located the following document on Board Docs from the January 11, 2016 board meeting:
It lists $5 million in expenditures that could be done on HMS if the referendum is not passed. We recall that this list used to be over $10,000,000. Interesting.
Many people on this blog have been commenting how long the facilities committee has actually been in place. A search of board docs located the following memo which clearly states it was created in October 2013, less than 2 1/2 years ago.....
Healy Bender, the go to architect the district had used in the past, was contracted for $26,000 to complete a Master's Facility Plan.
The facilities committee presented a lot of useful information at the April 21, 2014 board meeting on HMS and the history of the building and past expenditures. Check the documents out at: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9HLLT2580A39
Less than 1 1/2 years ago, Wight and Company was hired to complete a Facilities Audit: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/9Q6U7T7493B4/$file/BOE%20Report_Facility%20Assessment%20RFP_10_27_14.pdf
Only one year ago, January 26, 2015, Dr. White announced that Wight and Company had completed a 350 page report on the facilities needs at all 9 schools. His report also stated that Healy Bender's Educational Adequacy Analysis which also dealt with school conditions would be ready in April 2015 and that by June 2015 (only 8 months ago) a Master's Facility Plan would be ready.
By February 2015, the completion date for the Masters Facilities Plan had been pushed back to July 2015.
In April 2015, additional information on overcrowding at HMS was presented to the BOE as a basis for their approval of additional mobile units:
At the May 11, 2015, discussion began on the creation of the Masters Facility plan, but the date for completion of the Plan was once again pushed back to September 2015. Embedded in this presentation was the suggestion to issue an RFP for an architect to do renderings of a new HMS and to select a firm by September 4, 2015.
An updated calendar on facilities planning involving a possible new HMS was presented at the June 8, 2015 board meeting. This calendar still had an architect firm being selected between September 28 and October 5, 2015 (another push back on the original date suggested in May).
At the June 22, 2015 board meeting, Ken Surma presented a report indicating that in late September or early October (2015), the BOE would be asked to determine whether to put a Referendum Question on the March 2016 ballot, and whether it should include other schools besides HMS. (Remember, the October "deadline" was not met and the BOE didn't decide until December 19 to go to referendum.)
Another timeline update was presented at the August 15, 2015 board meeting setting October 19 (another delay) as the dates for possible board action on selecting an architect and deciding whether to go to referendum in March.
On August 31 summaries of recent committee meetings were presented to the BOE, including one from the Facilities Committee:
It still showed October 19 as the target date for presentation of the Masters Facility Plan, Selection of Architect and Board decision on going to Referendum in March. The date for selection of the Architect had been pushed back yet again from the originally proposed date...
At the September 28, 2015 board meeting, the BOE was provided a summary of where things stood on the HMS facilities front. On September 8 and 10, three architect firms presented their HMS concept designs at the Hinsdale Public Library.
A draft 10 years Masters Facilities plan was also presented to the BOE:
At the September 28, 2015 BOE meeting, HMS options and the controversial ranking of architects (but no selection) were also discussed:
Facilities Committee minutes were also presented:
A mere 4 months ago, at the October 19, 2015 BOE meeting, the board was presented with more information on selecting an architect for the HMS project:
The three firms were "reranked" following the concerns raised at the prior board meeting and the results were presented at:
Rather than being asked to approve going to referendum (per the updated timeline), the BOE was now only tasked with providing guidance to the administration on whether to proceed to referendum in March 2016:
The board took action by selecting Cordogan as the architect, did not decide whether or not to place a referendum question on the March 2016 and authorized 2 board members to enter into contract negotiations with Cordogan, See Minutes of meeting at: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/A3Y7ZS78AD9D/$file/Reg.%20Bus.%20Mtg.%20Min._10_19_15.pdf
Unfortunately, a Special Meeting needed to be called for October 26, to rescind the motion approving board member negotiators and bring that motion again. Apparently, there must have been some type of "error" (or perhaps OMA violation?) requiring this special meeting. (Interestingly, if one looks at the NOTICE of this special meeting, it doesn't list the reason for the special meeting, which is also required by law....another mistake?)
See Minutes: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/A3YJUU4CA869/$file/Sp.%20Brd.%20Mtg.%20Min_10_26_15.pdf
See Notice: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=A2ULLX52134C
On November 9, 2015 the BOE approved hiring Pepper Construction to price out the true cost of the $46,876,115.00 Cordogan design concept for an new HMS. (See Cordogan proposal, p.46 at http://www.d181.org/data/files/gallery/ContentGallery/CCSD_181_RFPArchitectural_Services_web.pdf)
At the December 14, 2015 board meeting, the BOE and Community learned for the first time that in costing out the Cordogan design concept, Pepper Constructions estimated it would actually cost $73 million, not $46,876,115.00.
The BOE failed to vote on whether to go to referendum and scheduled a special Saturday board meeting on December 19, 2015.
A mere four days after the $73 cost estimate, two new cheaper proposals were floated to the BOE: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=A58JZ54F2C08
One was for $66.4 million (http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/A5BHMK492B8B/$file/SD%20181%20Hinsdale%20MS%20Budget%20Summary%20Option%20A%20Revised%20121715.pdf)
The other one was for $63.7 million (http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/A5BHMQ492E2B/$file/SD%20181%20Hinsdale%20MS%20Budget%20Summary%20Option%20B%20Revised%20121715.pdf)
The BOE majority approved putting a $65 million question on the March 2016 ballot, barely meeting the ballot language submission deadline.
The BOE tasked the facilities committee to explore cheaper options but based upon last week's facilities committee meeting "due diligence" (as Don White refers to it during the meeting), the committee will be recommending a $65 million design to the BOE.
How can anyone trust this number? Perhaps Pepper should be asked to take a look at the latest Option G design and cost it out....
I think we are kidding ourselves if we think Butler would want to consolidate with us.
The only thing we have to lose by NOT trying for this consolidation is $65 million. Or $75 - 85 million. That is more than enough incentive for me. Think of the amazing district that could be created if Hinsdale and Oak Brook could combine their resources. Even if we passed a referendum for $30 million, and Oak Brook passed a referendum for $30 million, and the new school got built on land in Oak Brook, or perhaps even just added on to Bultler, we instantly save $35 million AND save millions of dollars in adminstrator salaries from now on. If necessary, we could sell off some HMS land to the village for a park, a new parking village structure or a multi use development and make money on the deal. Or, HMS could remodel a smaller, scaled down new version that would have a smaller population of around 500. Butler could add another 350 of our kids to their school, and both middle schools could have similar populations.
The business world makes mergers between completely different companies all the time. The idea of blending 2 middle schools in the same neighborhood is really not that complicated. If CHMS, HMS, and Bulter could all become a part of one district, everyone woud benefit. ISBE has an entire task force dedicated towards thinking of ways to save money in Illinois for education. The way that harms students the least, protects teachers, and saves money is school consolidation. This could bring communities together while saving millions of dollars in administrative costs, office space, technology, and resources. This is really not rocket science. For the right offer, Oak Brook will bite.
Lets say Butler balks. If Oak Brook were confronted with the potential possibility that with no 181/Butler merger, Hinsdale Central could begin turning away kids from Butler 53, then maybe Butler woud be convinced that this consolidation is in the interests of both communities. Let's not forget that D86 is facing a major referendum and building project too. If that D86 referendum does not pass because everyone in 181 had used up all of our money, this wil negatively impact Hinsdale Central and all the kids fro Oak Brook who go there. If Butler doesn't want to scratch our back, then why should we continue to scratch theirs?
Dear Dr. White and Board of Education Members:
I am writing to inform all of you of an alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act that was disclosed during yesterday's facilities committee. As you all should know, it is illegal for three or more board members to discuss substantive board business outside of a properly noticed open or closed meeting, or make decisions that are represented as full board directives. I was, shocked to learn at the 1 minute 43 second mark during the 1/27/16 facilities committee that Mr. Clarin had discussions with two other board members in the last couple of days which led him to represent to the entire Facilities Committee that the BOE had decided to focus only on $65 million options for a new HMS.
All of this was revealed during the first five minutes of the meeting. The meeting begins with one of the Cordogan representatives attempting to begin a discussion on the $55, $60 and $65 million options for a new HMS. As you all should recall, at the last board meeting, the BOE was very clear that the facilities committee and architect should prepare these three options for further discussion. The BOE approved language for a $65 million referendum question on the March 15 ballot, but there was enough dissent expressed by various board members that it was agreed that the committee and architect should continue trying to lower the cost. During yesterday's meeting, the Cordogan representative stated that they had prepared various iterations but at some point they needed to stop and get direction from the BOE and with that direction from the facilities committee that they could share wit the board. He then said he wanted to go over pros and cons developed for each of the $55, $60 and $65 million options they had developed.
It was at this point in the meeting, that Board Member Gary Clarin stopped him (00:1:42) and said:
"I’m going to stop you there because I had a discussion with a couple of board members over the last couple of days and I think we’d like to, we approved 65, I’d think we’d like to move forward at 65, whatever that may be, I think our financing needs to reflect 65, cause the community is going to need something soon and I know finance is tomorrow night. Um, we need to just work at 65. 55 was not what the board approved, we approved 65. If we can come in at 55, then so be it, but I think we need to start looking at 65, 64, whatever that iteration is and we need to go with that. I’m only one board member, but that’s what I’d like to do. I’d like to narrow this down, so we can work towards one thing, without trying to do all these iterations."
There have been NO publicly noticed board meetings in the "last couple of days" at which Mr. Clarin could have legally had a discussion with fellow board members leading to his representation that the BOE wanted to move forward with the $65 million option. In my opinion, his statement is an admission of a blatant open meetings act violation.
My only question to you is, which other board members participated in the discussion with Mr. Clarin and what authority did the three of you have to make decisions for the rest of the board?
If, by chance, this discussion did not actually take, place, then I would ask you to have Mr. Clarin explain his misrepresentation to the Facilities Committee yesterday.
I would like to know what Mr. Giltner and Ms. Garg think of Mr. Clarin's revelation, since I did not hear either of them comment during this part of the meeting on Clarin's representations.
I would appreciate an immediate response from Dr. White and BOE President Garg as to how this alleged violation will be handled, so that I can decide whether or not to file a Request for Review with the Attorney General's Office.