Sunday, January 31, 2016


Moments ago, we received the following comment that poses some great questions on the proposed HMS design concepts.  We agree that the answers to these questions should provide some clarity to the voters on what exactly has been developed and how the proposed $65 million might be spent.  

We'd love it if someone on the Facilities Committee or D181 Administration would take a crack at answering them, since they are not that difficult, but it shouldn't be up to individual community members, or us (the bloggers), to dissect all of the design concepts since Cordogan first presented it's original one in early December 2015.

We hope to have answers submitted.......


Anonymous said...

Can someone clear up the following questions which I think will provide clarity on the process, price and purpose of the new HMS.

Cordovan's original design concept was priced at $46.8 million. This did not include an administrative center. That design would have cost $50 million. When that design concept was priced out by Pepper, the construction firm said the concept would actually cost $73 million. IS THAT CORRECT?

Then the BOE said, this is too expensive. IS THAT CORRECT? My question is whether the Design that Pepper priced out had MORE features than the original WINNING design concept?

Then did the Facilities Committee or Cordogan (WHICH ONE OR BOTH?) worked with the teachers (???) to modify the original design and bring a cheaper alternative to the BOE BEFORE they voted on language to put on the March 2016 ballot? DID THAT HAPPEN? And Version A cost 66.4 and Version B cost 63.7? Is that CORRECT?

And the BOE split the baby and settled on Ballot language of $65 million BUT they did not settle on a specific design concept at that time. IS THAT CORRECT?

But even then it sent the design concept BACK to the facilities committee and Cordogan and said, bring us a $55, $60 and $65 million version. IS THAT CORRECT?

And last week, the facilities committee "arguably" discussed Version C, D, E, F and G. Version C was a $55 million version, Version D a $60 million version and E, F and G were all $65 million versions and they settled on Version G which they will recommend to the BOE on February 8. IS THAT CORRECT?

HOW IS VERSION G different (in terms of features, square footage and bells and whistles) from Cordogan's ORIGINAL $46.8 million design concept?

And my final question -- what was the price per square foot Pepper calculated for Cordogan's Original Design concept and what is the price per square foot of Version G?

CAN ANYONE PLEASE ANSWER THESE BASIC QUESTIONS? After 2+ years, someone on the Facilities Committee should be able to (perhaps Mrs. Mueller) or perhaps the D181 keeper of all knowledge (I mean, the Director of Communications) or perhaps one of our readers who can analyze the hundreds of pages of documents that are on the D181 website and Board Docs to determine the answers.

Thank you.

January 31, 2016 at 8:04 AM


Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the time that the Board approved the "Learning for All Plan," before it was a plan and was just a PowerPoint. As usual, the cart is in front of the horse. This bunch couldn't manage its way out of a paper bag. Any dime given to them is a dime wasted.

Vote No!

Elm Parent said...

So glad someone posted these questions. The community deserves answers, as does the BOE before the 2/8 board meeting.

I have always voted yes on D181 referenda, but I have known well in advance exactly what it would cost me, not just one month before the election. I am disappointed that the administration has dragged out making a recommendation to the BOE about how to finance the $65 million in bonds. Just give the community a number, already! And answer the questions please!!

HMS Parent of 2 said...

I am an HMS parent and this is what we were told in our newsletter this week. No real specifics or indication that this has been a rollercoaster ride.....Since the vote is less than 1 and 1/2 months away, I am surprised parents haven't been given more details.

Referendum FAQ of the Week (#2)

“Is the design for HMS finalized? Where would the new HMS building be located?”

Since their selection as our architectural firm for the potential new construction of HMS, Cordogan Clark and Associates has continued to refine their initial conceptual design that was presented to the community in September. Through collaborative meetings with the HMS staff, the Board of Education, and the Board’s Facilities Committee, as well as Village leaders, they have heard valuable feedback about all areas of the proposed school, including instructional spaces, common areas, and building systems. On February 8, the Board will be presented a series of design options. We anticipate asking for consensus (or action) to select a final conceptual design so that the cost estimate can be finalized, and so that our community can see the design being proposed with the key components it includes. It is important to note that a conceptual design is not considered the final design. Should the referendum be approved, we would facilitate opportunities for the community to provide further feedback on the design, and can then consider minor adjustments to be made before presenting a final schematic design for approval.

It has been determined that a new school would be constructed to the immediate south of the current HMS building, in the open field known as the “bowl” and the parking lot / alley to the west. Students would remain in the current building during construction, and would not be displaced. Once students are moved into the new building (in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year), the current building would then be eliminated to create the permanent parking area.

Anonymous said...

HMS Parent of 2,
The design process of the new HMS hasn't been a rollercoaster ride. A design competition design by Cordogan was refined when specific needs of the building (# of core teaching stations required, SpEd space, ELL space, Reading space, Differentiation space, etc.) were delineated by the HMS staff. Then, the Cordogan staff continued to redesign the drawings based on feedback from the Facilities Committee and also based on requests from the BOE. Anyone who has ever been involved in designing a school knows that there are several iterations over the course of time based on feedback from the parties involved. The current Option G that the Facilities Committee will be recommending to the BOE next Monday is based on current educational standards, teacher input, the HMS pupil population expected, and life safety mandates. It is a conceptual design that will continue to be refined, for example as to exactly where faculty bathrooms will be best located and how to exactly configure student services to provide best serving and privacy. The Facilities Committee will explain their reasoning and rational for every aspect included in Option G. Please come to the meeting next Monday at Walker School and be informed!

Anonymous said...

The design was based on best standards? Whose, staff's, architects, or the taxpayers? Whoever wrote the above post sounds like he works for Cordogan. Whoever pays for the buidling should have the ultimate say in the design, and most importantly, price. Start by coming up with a reasonable budget and sticking to it. Then and only then can you come up with was meets everyone's needs, not just their wants.

The day that teachers and architects pay for HMS is the day that their voice should carry more weight than the people who have been, and will be paying for HMS in the future. Parents and residents don't need to go to yet another meeting to see how our input he been ignored. Or what administrators have been wasting their time on instead of solving curricular and assessment problems.

These are the reasons why I am voting no on the referendum. And I live in the HMS area. If another referendum comes up in a few years, and the price and design ever become more realistic, transparent and democratic, that is the time I will support such a project. As of now, the only thing I want to hear discussed is why aren't we considering other locations like parks, old churches, or even the actual Taj Mahal on County Line Rd. and County Line? Also, I want to hear more about consolidation with Oak Brook or Maerker. The idea makes sense, and offers us all a chance to get rid of our current board and administration quickly and painlessly.

Responsible Parent

HMS Parent of 2 said...

8:24: Thank you for your answer. It sounds like you must be on the facilities committee or perhaps are a board member? While your answer is a start, it doesn't really answer the questions. You see, I make my decisions based upon factual information, not just suggestions on what I'll hear about in the future. A lot of "iterations" have been developed - A through G by my last count -- and so there must be differences not only in size, scope and features from Version A (which I believe was the original design concept) that have impacted the original price. If you are actually knowledgeable enough to have answered at 8:24, can you please answer the specific questions. Why make us all wait for a future meeting? It would help to establish your credibility and perhaps voters would start to trust your conclusion more (or less) depending on what the answers are. As for attending the upcoming meeting, I have listened to every podcast that is available and I plan to do the same for the upcoming meetings. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Ok, 10:42..I'm pretty sure I know who you are. Too bad you don't sign your name.
The best standards that were used to set the metrics used by the Facilities Comm. are certified, national best standards researched by architects, engineers in conjunction with educators. So, you think that taxpayers, who are NOT building trained and experienced should be determining the plans for the new HMS??? I don't know what your area of expertise is, but I certainly doubt you would be willing to let other non-experts tell you what to do in your field! The D181 taxpayers, unless they are architects experienced in the area of school planning and/or engineers in this area, are NOT experts in addressing the needs and design of the new proposed HMS! I am an educator. I would in no way attempt to tell an attorney or accountant how to do their business. As a matter of fact, the Facilities Comm. has community members who are architects, experienced facilities people and educators on the committee and these people PAY TAXES IN D181!!!!! What more do you want???? You sound like such a bitter person. And by the way, I wrote the post above your comments and I don't work for Cordogan. I am a former teacher, who actually even taught in D181 for three years. I have served on the Fac. Comm for 21/2 years, the D181 BOE for 8 years, the D181 Foundation for 6 years, am part of the interview committee that is searching for the new permanent Asst. Supt. for Learning for the District and have volunteered in other capacities in D181 for 28 years. What have you done for D181 beside complain??? I can tell you that the people who have served on the Facilities Committee are D181 taxpayers and we don't want to waste one penny of our hard earned money in additional taxes. However, it is OBVIOUS that the current HMS is an incredibly inadequate educational structure that is too small and horribly out of date. For you, 10:42 to even say there are other properties that should be investigated demonstrates that you are a totally misinformed individual who is clueless as to what has been happening in D181 for at least the last ten years. I hope other people reading this blog realize that someone who suggests that there are other pieces of land in this area that HMS could be built on has invested absolutely no time at all to become knowledgable concerning the HMS situation. How can you say the current recommended design is NOT realistic. What do you know about the pricing of a building like the recommended HMS??? Hubble cost $65 million 8 years ago!!! Ok, 7:28 am, I will answer you questions. I have to do it in a Part II post so I don't run over the allowed # of characters. I hope people will read my answers and think about what is presented. I have lived in the D181 community for almost 29 years and worked on every past referendum as a committee member or BOE member. For people who supposedly move into D181 to give their children an exemplary education, how in the world can you deny the fact that a building that is out of date both functionally and educationally, needs a new $2-3 million roof, leaks every time is rains (which probably means that the water coming in the building is activating mold again!!!) and is too small for the pupil population (demonstrated by 8 portable classrooms) is where YOU would want your students to attempt to learn. I know all too well that the current D181 curriculum is a mess. That is why I am investing my time as a former middle school teacher and D181 BOE member to hire someone to fix it. But, you can't put off the opportunity to correct the HMS situation any longer. It has been decades that HMS should have been addressed. Now is the time to do it. D86 is going to be coming to the community with facility updates. Hinsdale Central was built in the '50's and it needs updating. BUT, IT DOESN'T LEAK, HAVE HAD MOLD AND IS TOTALLY EDUCATIONALLY HORRIBLE! REALLY???

HMS Parent of 2 said...

10:48, this is 7:28 (HMS Parent of 2). I look forward to your answers and thank you in advance for them. Just to be clear, my 2 kids will not get to be in the new school since they will be in high school by the time it is built. If the leaks are actually causing mold to grow now, what is your committee or the administration doing about it? When was the last time HMS was tested for mold? How often is it tested? Has any been found since the $3 million was spent on it a couple of years ago? Didn't Dr. White say the building is safe? If it's got mold again, then was he not telling the truth?

The portables weren't properly heated a couple of weeks ago. It was unacceptable. When and what did the facilities committee discuss about resolving that bad situation NOW? Was anyone held accountable? Did the district get any money back from the company leasing the portables for the days there wan't proper heat?

I need to be able to trust that the decisions the administration is making are the best decisions. I am skeptical because it seems that even though your committee has worked for 2 1/2 years (really, only 2 years 1/3 years), the last six months have seemed like a rush to meet a March 2016 election deadline, rather than really taking the time to more thoroughly address many remaining questions and issues about the proposed building. My kids will be in high school in two years. I have been following their discussions on their possible referendum just as much as following D181's discussions. I know that D86 has taken 5 years to finalize a masters facility plan and have identified over $100 million in projects and renovations and additions that their board feels are needed. But they don't seem to be in any rush to put a referendum before the communities until they have really vetted out all options and answered all questions and prioritized the projects in the bigger context of operational expenditures that they might need to make in the future.

I just wish that D181 would have done the same. I will carefully review your answers when you post them, but as of this moment in time, I remain skeptical that a $65 million concept is really in the best interest of all D181 taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Ann Mueller, thank you for for all that you do. It is not an easy task, but I'm sure you and the other committee members are doing your best. However, I do feel like 11:44 has some valid points. I feel that the design process for a new school has been rushed, with not enough input from all stakeholders. Having Cordogan say it would cost $45 million until when the board was supposed to vote on it, and it shoots to $73 million. Then in less than a week, it goes back down to $65 million. I'm sorry, but even for residents who are architects and engineers, that doesn't seem like enough time to properly vet all possibilities and get community feedback. While most of our tax-paying community are probably not architects, I feel they should have some input into what goes into HMS, whether it's a renovation or new school. What subjects are required by law, or for basic life skills? Probably language arts, math, and PE. Make enough rooms for those subjects. What subjects can we do without? Applied Tech and Family and Consumer Sciences? If the community doesn't want those subjects, maybe get rid of those classrooms?

Teachers and support staff should have some input on the process, too. What would help them give the best education? Probably decent sized & shaped classrooms. Make all the rooms easily maintainable from a custodial and IT standpoint. Have the teachers and staff make a list of what they need and give reasons of how this will help. How does having an auditorium help the teaching process? Prove to the tax payers that whatever features are worth their price. I don't want a dump for school, but I don't want a Taj Mahal, either. If we have to pay for a new school, give us our money's worth! I don't want a new school that leaks or is already overcrowded when it opens.

What the district really needs to do is offer a clear, open, public forum, and decision makers who listen to all stakeholders. This last part is key. If the powers that be in the administration don't listen, we'll just have more problems.

Anonymous said...

Ms Mueller:

Thank you again for your comments. You are well respected in our community, and we appreciate your continued devotion to our district.
You mentioned that the curriculum is a mess, and it clearly is and getting worse. It's great you are on the hiring committee for the new Assistant Superintendent, but hiring a new administrator will only address one part of the problem with our district. I'm sure you recognize the bigger problem is the total lack of leadership and direction for the district. Please consider using your influence to correct this problem because the new Assistant Superintendent will be reporting to Don White, who obviously is not the right person for the job and will influence a new hire with his ridiculous ideas about learning and curriculum. Yes, the curriculum is a mess, but we must ask why and who is responsible? Maybe when parents see some effort by the board of education to totally clean house, you will have greater support for a new HMS.

Anonymous said...

Several bloggers have raised two larger issues over and above HMS and the current site that I don't believe have been thoroughly addressed:

1) Why haven't we initiated serious discussions with Butler regarding a merger? This should be an ongoing discussion and we should have been having that discussion for the past 10 years, certainly the past 2.5 years as we have been planning for a new middle school. We should continue to have that discussion. Some Oak Brook children attend Monroe and most attend Hinsdale Central. Butler 53 has a full component of staff for one small elementary school and a 163 student middle school.

Mergers and consolidations are being strongly urged throughout this state as a way to reduce bloat and waste. Who have we talked to? How many times have we talked to them? Has our board met with their board on this issue? I scour the local papers and my best guess is a few people might have discussed it over beers at the York Tavern, but it has not been seen as a priority by anyone on either side. Change to the State of Illinois is coming; we can drive it or become a victim of it.

2) Why are we not seriously considering a 3 story building? Who have we talked to on the Village Trustees, Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals? CHMS is 3 stories. A 3 story building will free up more open space in downtown Hinsdale. A 3 story school obviously would be cheaper to build since foundation, roof, electric, and plumbing are used more efficiently. Has our board formally met with any of the Hinsdale village boards and committees? I don't recall this being mentioned in any of the local papers that cover Hinsdale and D 181. This is low hanging fruit that should have been fully explored over the past 2.5 years.

I believe you that people have seriously looked at student needs, best materials, utilizing spaces, best practices, etc., but that there are a number of us that are still not sure that all the homework has been done.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really think that the residents or BOE of the Butler district would ever consider a merger?? Why would they do that? There is no reason. Holding out hope for that is ridiculous in my opinion. D86 and D181 are completely separate school districts. D86 is never going to advocate for us on this issue, they have their own problems and referendum to fight for.

Anonymous said...

Mergers and consolidations are not always voluntary. I believe we can at least force them to talk with us and common sense says that both sides should at least be discussing it. I realize that D86 has nothing to do with this, but there is no state law that says Oak Brook children have to go to Monroe.

Seriously, we have a bankrupt state and perhaps soon both D181 and D53 will be forced to pay the full pension for all of those quarter million dollar administrators and 6 figure teachers that have retired over the years.

Illinois has more units of local government than any other state. Almost no other state has a million dollars of staff overhead for only two schools ( 53 and 86 and many others).

Something has to give. The day may come when a politically connected bureaucrat in Wheaton is the superintendent of ALL THE SCHOOLS IN THE COUNTY!!! This how it is done in other states.

We can start to be proactive or we can become a victim of Springfield.

My larger point is I am 99% sure D181 has NOT approached D53 with any kind of preliminary, yet serious discussions. For those that say "absolutely all options have been explored" are referring only to construction issues and not larger issues.

Anonymous said...

Good points about mergers and consolidations. If this information had been discussed at any point with the public, it would have been supported by documentation. Hard to believe that after all of the future of HMS meetings called and surveys conducted that no one on the committee felt it was necessary explore this logical, fiscally responsible option. However, it is not too late. Most likely a a more financially savvy, future board of 181 will come to their senses and present us with his option in a few years after this current 181 referendum fails. I will only vote to support the D86 referendum.

Another pai full obvious for consilidation has also been ignored by the facilities committee. Why is no one mentioning the consolidation between 86 and 181? The outcome of this merger would not soley rely on the voters of Oak Brook 53 buying in. A merger like his would pass because voters in District 86 could care less about the future of D181. These people would immediately realize the potential income the property taxes of D181 would provide to 86 and it would pass in a heartbeat. In fact, wonder if D86 itself could broach this idea of consolidation to our local ROE and ISBE before the referendum?

D86 stands to gain our tax dollars and most importantly, could immediately begin to ensure that D181 children are provided with the proper educational foundation that will be required of them once they get to Hinsfae Central.

The elementary and middle school teachers in 181 would instantly get higher salaries because K-12 unit teachers get paid more than K-8 teachers. Since the administrative salaries of both districts would suddenly cosilidate into 1 streamlined district housed at D86, we would save both rent, resources, specialists, and redundant salaries. This would cover the higher teacher salaries and leave more than enough more on the table. I am surprised that Ms. Mueller, a former teacher with 3 years of teaching experience in 181, a former board member, facilities member, and member of the new superintendent interviewee position did not think to present this option to the public.

HMS Parent

The Parents said...

Just a reminder that we will not post personal attacks against community members.

Anonymous said...

I did a little searching, and found this map of school and district boundaries for District 86 and its feeder districts:

According to it, Hinsdale South has 4 feeder districts, Central has 3. Okay, part of a forth district, but that part can go to either Central or South, so I won't really count that as a feeder to Central. If we really want to consolidate with District 86, we'd have to consolidate with more districts that don't go in to Central than do. How affluent are the other districts? Will we have to pay more to cover other communities' kids? How will the consolidation of all 8 districts affect our property taxes?

Anonymous said...

No one will ever know the answers to these perfectly valid questions unless we all can asks them to a representative from ISBE. These questions and answers must be exhaustive and documented in the website. Asking hypothetical questions about whether or not Oak Briok or D86 would want us is pointless. Personally, I think the idea of merging with Oak Brook's 2 schools sounds easier, but I would also like to hear about any other logical options.

Merging wth less affluent communities might make sense because their schools have access to additional federal funding that our district does not qualify for. That is why D181 pays such an exorbitant amount of property taxes to D181. We pay much less to D86 than to 181 simply because so many other schools feed into it. More people sharing the expenses and less administrators taking up salaries (and future pensions) should instantly lower the cost.

The thought that I find most intriguing is the opportunity for HCHS to finally have oversight over the curriculum and and preparation of D181 students. Currently, D86 is under no obligation to provide us with suggestions or input regarding the recent changes in D181 or how it has affected classrooms there. The constant changing of books and educational theories in D181 is not conducive to teachers in HCMS being fully prepared to know what our students already know. They have to fill in the gaps that D181 has created. However, if K-8 in 181 was professionally aligned with 86, then the transition pains between middle and high school would be not as dramatic.

Parent Losing Patience said...

I am disappointed. Four years ago, board presidents and administrators and Learning Committee members (made up of elected officials and educational "experts") kept telling us all to trust them and not question their plans to raise the floor to raise the ceiling. Now we all know -- and the data has proven it - that no one should have trusted them. Sorry, but that's the truth.

So when committee members or political groups tell us to trust the experts and not question them because we are all ignorant or claim we don't know what we are talking about, they need to understand that trust has to be earned.

This district lost the right to expect parents and taxpayers to trust them simply because the administration and committee members tell us to.

We are all intelligent adults. We may be fooled once, maybe twice, but after our kids and our pocketbooks get burned repeatedly, we will demand and deserve facts and data to analyze ourselves before we are asked to accept what others are telling us to buy.

No disrespect intended to all those who have worked on the committees, but your telling me to trust you and that everyone else is wrong, is actually disrespecting our independence and right as homeowners and parents and taxpayers to come to our own conclusions -- even it they do not agree with yours. I'm really hoping the answers that a committee members says she is putting together will help me make a more informed decision. I hope the answers are posted soon. Thank you.