Saturday, January 30, 2016

Comment(s) of the Day -- HMS Referendum Chronology

We'd like to thank the anonymous reader who over the last couple of hours has submitted a series of comments tracking the chronology of events leading up to the March 2016 HMS Referendum Question.

We are publishing them below (along with all the useful links) so that anyone interested can quickly access board meeting documents.  What is fascinating to us is how this chronology shows that in a short span of 2 years, a Facilities Committee was formed and tasked with creating a Masters Facility Plan for all 10 schools, only one school -- HMS -- was ultimately selected for any large projects and despite the focus on only one school, virtually every deadline set was missed by the administration.  Compounding that is the reality that the winning design concept, originally priced at $46.8 million was completely off the mark and the true cost (as estimated by Pepper Construction) was $73 million.  It is no wonder the BOE balked at this number and pushed for a cheaper version, but a mere four days later 5 of 7 board members settled on $65 million as an appropriate amount to ask taxpayers to fund.  

We ask, is it really appropriate to have a design that is nearly $20 million higher than what the board selected in October?  After months of delay in selecting an architect and many missed deadlines, why would anyone trust the "urgency" and rapid fire decisions and changes made in late December 2015? 


Comments of the Day:

Anonymous said...
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.....$file/BOE%20Report_Facilities_1_13_14.pdf
Anonymous said...
Healy Bender, the go to architect the district had used in the past, was contracted for $26,000 to complete a Master's Facility Plan.$file/BOE%20Report%20Facilities%20Master%20Plan_12_9_13.pdf
Anonymous said...
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:
Anonymous said...
Less than 1 1/2 years ago, Wight and Company was hired to complete a Facilities Audit:$file/BOE%20Report_Facility%20Assessment%20RFP_10_27_14.pdf
Anonymous said...
Only one year ago, January 26, 2015, Dr. White announced that Wight and Company had completed a 350 page report on the facilities needs at all 9 schools. His report also stated that Healy Bender's Educational Adequacy Analysis which also dealt with school conditions would be ready in April 2015 and that by June 2015 (only 8 months ago) a Master's Facility Plan would be ready.$file/BOE%20Report%20-%20Supt%20Report%2015-01-26.pdf
Anonymous said...
By February 2015, the completion date for the Masters Facilities Plan had been pushed back to July 2015.$file/BOE%20Report_%20Supt%20Report%20_2_9_15.pdf
Anonymous said...
In April 2015, additional information on overcrowding at HMS was presented to the BOE as a basis for their approval of additional mobile units:$file/BOE%20Report_HMS_Options_4_13_15.pdf
Anonymous said...
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.$file/BOE%20Presentation_Facilities_%205.12.2015.pdf
Anonymous said...
An updated calendar on facilities planning involving a possible new HMS was presented at the June 8, 2015 board meeting. This calendar still had an architect firm being selected between September 28 and October 5, 2015 (another push back on the original date suggested in May).$file/Timeline%20Update%20for%20the%20Board%2015-06-08.pdf
Anonymous said...
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.)$file/BOE%20Report_Facilities%20Master%20Plan%20Engagement%20Research%20Planning_6_22_15.pdf
Anonymous said...
Another timeline update was presented at the August 15, 2015 board meeting setting October 19 (another delay) as the dates for possible board action on selecting an architect and deciding whether to go to referendum in March.$file/2015_08_17_Facilities_Planning_Timeline.pdf
Anonymous said...
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...$file/BOE%20Fin.%20%26%20Fac.%20Com.%20Mtg.%20Min.(2)_8_18_15.pdf
Anonymous said...
At the September 28, 2015 board meeting, the BOE was provided a summary of where things stood on the HMS facilities front. On September 8 and 10, three architect firms presented their HMS concept designs at the Hinsdale Public Library.$file/BOE%20Report_Engagement%20and%20Research%20Update_9_28_15.pdf

A draft 10 years Masters Facilities plan was also presented to the BOE:$file/Facilities%20Master%20Plan%20-%209.27.2015%20-%20reduced%20size.pdf
Anonymous said...
At the September 28, 2015 BOE meeting, HMS options and the controversial ranking of architects (but no selection) were also discussed:$file/BOE%20Report%20-%20Options%20for%20HMS%20-%209.28.2015%20(Revised).pdf

Facilities Committee minutes were also presented:
Anonymous said...
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:$file/Facilities%20Committee%20Pros%20and%20Cons%20for%20Architectural%20Firm%20Decision%2015-09-29.pdf
The three firms were "reranked" following the concerns raised at the prior board meeting and the results were presented at:$file/BOE%20Report%20-%20Ranking%20of%20Architects%20for%20HMS%20Construction_10_19_15.pdf

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:$file/BOE%20Report_Potential%20Referendum_10_19_15.pdf

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:$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:$file/Sp.%20Brd.%20Mtg.%20Min_10_26_15.pdf

See Notice:
Anonymous said...
On November 9, 2015 the BOE approved hiring Pepper Construction to price out the true cost of the $46,876,115.00 Cordogan design concept for an new HMS. (See Cordogan proposal, p.46 at$file/BOE%20Report_Construction%20Manager%20Cost%20Estimator_11_9_15.pdf
Anonymous said...
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 $46,876,115.00.$file/HMS%20Cost%20Estimate%20DRAFT%20Executive%20Summary%2012-13-15.pdf

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:

One was for $66.4 million ($file/SD%20181%20Hinsdale%20MS%20Budget%20Summary%20Option%20A%20Revised%20121715.pdf

The other one was for $63.7 million ($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....


Anonymous said...

Didn't the original 46 mil include a balcony to the auditorium? So the balcony is gone - a hefty price tag item! - but the cost went up 20 mil??

Anonymous said...

Part 1: I think if you would listen to the podcasts you would have better information instead of assuming missed deadlines and the purpose of the construction manager. The board was asked on October 19 whether to move ahead with planning to put a referendum question on the March 2016 ballot, not what to put on the ballot. It was pretty clearly stated if you listen. There were two questions being considered at that time, one just addressing HMS and another that would ask for approval to build a new school and additional funds to address major ticket maintenance items for the various schools. I believe the board said to continue working towards placing a question but didn't eliminate the possibility of asking for additional funds for maintenance. The exact question for the ballot was read in great detail on December 19. It required a dollar amount. Once Cordogan was picked as the architect for this project, they were asked to talk to the staff to validate the design since there had been no conversations and none of the architects seem to know how spaces may currently be used, what was missing and what was needed in a new building. Based on that feedback Cordogan came back with a new design (looked similar to previous one) but more spaces were added to account for student services, special needs etc. You have to go look at the information on boarddocs if you are looking for specifics or listen to the recordings. All of the info is there along with the discussion about picking Pepper Construction to validate the cost for the ballot question. They validated the cost for the updated design which was not shared back with the staff. This seemed to be an important step since Cordogan had a cost and Pepper based on their experience came up with their cost. In my opinion this was a good decision on the part of the facilities committee, admin and board since as a tax payer you want someone to look out for you and not have cost overruns later, change orders etc. I think the problem lies in a lack of conversations with staff during the design competition but we already seemed to be ahead with some kind of a conceptual design based on information in the rfp.

FAQ link:

Here is what it says about October 19:
October 19, 2015: Board members confirmed they were interested in moving forward with planning for a referendum in March 2016 for the purpose of new construction of HMS.
o October 19 and 26, 2015: The Board completed the ranking of architectural firms, with the following result: (1) Cordogan Clark; (2) Wight & Company; and (3) Legat Architects. Two Board members and an administrator entered into negotiations with Cordogan Clark, the top-ranked firm.
(A contract has been reviewed by both parties and by legal counsel and is slated for Board approval at the Business meeting on January 11, 2016.)
o November 9, 2015: Board members supported partnering with Pepper Construction as a
Construction Manager and Cost Estimator. (The Board report outlining the process for selecting Pepper Construction is posted on our website.)
o November 16, 2015: Representatives from Cordogan Clark and Pepper Construction attended the Special Board meeting to facilitate discussion with the Board regarding design considerations for the potential new construction of HMS.

Anonymous said...

Part 2: I'm sure we can find fault with everything and pick on the people and the quality of the work. These people tried to follow a plan and a timeline after a decision was made to address the long term future of the Hinsdale Middle School. Parents wanted it sooner as did the prior superintendent but the current administration said to delay a potential March 2015 vote to March 2016.

I also read a comment about Hubble that it took a decade of discussions about solving various inefficiencies that lead to a planning study which revealed that building a new school would be a budget and student centered solution versus renovation of the existing Hubble school at the time. Based on what we have seen over the past 15+ years (since 1998 or so), there have been continued discussions about overcrowding at the middle school which lead to the building of CHMS, moving the overcrowding to HMS, adding portable, more portables, trying to fix the HVAC, water intrusion and various inefficiencies/problems. Healy and Bender finally was charged along with the Facilities committee to conduct that planning study in September-October of 2013 which led to the same decision as what happened with Hubble. Here is a link to Hubble, although there are others already posted here:

Healy Bender Study: Start at Page 116 for HMS

None of us has all of the answers or the time to give it to each other. We need to take the time to read these documents to inform ourselves. It is a waste of time and money to spend more time on this problem if the referendum doesn't pass.

Anonymous said...

3;07: I'm not sure what you mean by saying that it would be a waste of time and money to spend more time on the problem if the referendum doesn't pass. I respectfully disagree. I think there are a variety of options that still need to be explored now that the price has skyrocketed (without waiting to see if the referendum passes or fails) such as whether or not a renovation and addition might be more affordable to taxpayers, especially since operational expenses may increase at the same time as revenues decrease should any of the various state funding cuts and property tax freezes and pension liability shifts be approved. I also agree with the suggestion that pepper should be asked to take a look at option G and cost it out to see if it would really cost $65 million or whether the architect has miscalculated. The Board of Education owes it to the community to have a discussion on financial hardships the district may be facing in the near future that could potentially require going to an operational referendum. That would be the fiscally responsible course to take before asking Community members to cast their votes. And they should have this discussion before March 15.

Anonymous said...

I think the dialogue on this blog regarding the referendum options is fantastic. It's a dialogue that the administration should have created a public forum for months ago. Sure, there will be disagreement and differing opinions on what should be the priority at this time, but isn't that what democracy is all about? I'm proud of every single community member who is engaging in this discussion on this blog. I can only hope that board members, administrators and yes, facilities committee members, are reading this discussion and asking themselves why a Townhall meeting or other community engagement session wasn't offered for Community members to express their opinions, questions and concerns regarding the actual options and price increases and what they might be willing to pay in increased property taxes BEFORE the board makes any more decisions on February 8. I understand that some kind of public forum will be held on February 17, but that's not really seeking input from community members because all of the decisions regarding the number to put on the ballot and the bond financing option will have already been made by the Board of Education by that date.

jay_wick said...

I agree with the comments about a value of re-evaluating a wider range of options.

Back when there were three architecture firms all clustered around $40M it seemed like an HMS replacement on the current site was the best solution. When a firm with more expertise in meeting the challenges of building with the onerous requirements of Illinois said a sum of more than 50% greater was necessary it understandably did not meet with unanimous support.

Thinking of all compromises that have now been part of the effort to wring costs out if the proposal and preserve the traditional appearance that is preferred, any thoughtful community member should be asking if there are better alternatives.

It is entirely possible that it the benefits of looking at other sites, perhaps those that would also make a merger with D53 more appealing, as well as potential for greater long term efficencies now outweigh the current proposal.

Some very troubling side effects of the current proposal, with a very complicated scheme to relocate the existing temporary classrooms, reconfigure the sports field and accommodate the very tight quarters for students, staff, and workers, means that it would necessitate two full years of construction. I suspect a less challenging site might result in students having a new school available for full use more quickly. It may also result in a facility with far more student focused amenities at no additional cost.

Again, being opposed to the current proposal is not at all the same as believing that HMS does not need to replaced...

Anonymous said...

I think it's fascinating that there are so many people commenting on the new HMS issue because it concerns their money but they have completely ignored the math disaster that has been going on for 4 years and that has/is negatively impacted hundreds of students with only a possible end in sight. Yes, tax dollars and a referendum are very important but, it's my opinion that the issues of the past 4 years are even more important. A school district is only as good as the education its students receive. D181 has been coasting on its reputation for some time now and we are just now beginning to see what unsubstantiated policies and decisions have done to our students 7th grade and lower. Problems with math can only be blamed on teachers and new materials for so long.

Anonymous said...

I agree that math and writing have been a disaster in this district for the 5 years that my kids have been here. That is why I want the BOE to put the brakes on this speeding train heading towards a hastily planned, poorly conceived new HMS. This is exactly what our district did when they hastily tore down all our programs, and slowly but sneakily, began piloting bits and pieces of trendy, experimental math curriculums without fully investigating or understanding any of it. Obviously, they didn't learn their lesson then that haste makes waste, so now, they are repeating the math curriculm fiasco, but this time, will waste $80 million building a poorly conceived school. As far as I am concerned, my children's educations in K - 8 grade are worth more than a pretty new school. That's why I want everyone to stop their rushed referendum nonsense and return to solving the curricular problems that these same people created.

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?d

Then did the Facilities Committee or Cordogan (WHICH ONE OR BOTH?) work 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.

Anonymous said...

Two True Stories Parents,

I am a parent of D 181 children who were educated back in the dark ages of late 90s, early 2000s, you know before electricity and the internet and we all milked cows every day:

Today, I meet a parent and a 4th grader at one of our fine elementary schools. Mom says they no longer give spelling tests in D181. The child learns 10 vocab words PER WEEK. Definition, how to use in a sentence etc.

I tell her my child went through D181 back in the old days, when children were actually required to learn stuff. My child was required to learn 10 words PER DAY! Every Friday a spelling and vocab test with 50 words! The word lists were differentiated including " challenge words" Challenge words were were at high school level. You did not need to be in a special class to learn challenge words. Children 15 years ago were adding hundreds of words to their vocabulary each year. Routinely "non gifted" students were getting 28 to 34 on their ACTs because they were educated from Day 1.

Second True Story:

Went to Hinsdale Public Library around 4 pm one day last week. Cars were parked up and down Washington, library parking full, cars parked one block over east of Garfield. I asked the library lady if there was something special going on. She says it is like this every day because of all the kids being tutored at the library. I glanced around; there must have been 75 to 100 elementary and middle school aged kids sitting with their tutors. This happens every day! Plus more tutors at home!

OMG people, what hath we wrought? It is one thing to use a tutor for ACT prep or SAT prep as a junior and senior in high school or to help cram for an AP calc or AP Bio exam. When kids this young are needing tutors what does that say? How on earth can we take spelling and vocabulary away from our kids??? What on earth are they replacing it with? Will they have to dumb down Hinsdale Central? How will are kids fare at Fenwick or another private school?

Please wake up parents. It is worse than you think.

I don't blame teachers; I blame the administration and this very sad curriculum.