Monday, January 25, 2016

Don White States $368,311 in Funding to D181 Could Be Cut By State this Year-- Is this Really the Right Time to Spend $65 Million on a New School?

This morning, the Chicago Tribune ran an article on the negative impact the proposed State funding cuts will have on local school districts.  Below is the link to the article:

According to the article, 

"The possible changes stem from the Illinois State Board of Education proposing to take $305 million from an account designated for special education services and giving that money to districts for general expenses. The change would mean more 'general' aid for public schools, but districts would still be expected to cover special education expenses." (Source:

Superintendent White was interviewed for the article and stated that "the proposed loss of special education funding would have cost District 181 $368,311 in fiscal year 2016." (Source:

He further stated: 
"Taking money away definitely impacts our ability to provide resources in other areas... Special education is a federally mandated program that is not fully funded. If we are to lose over $368,000 in funding, that means that we will have to shift current funding to comply with federal law. Ultimately, this will have an impact on our ability to provide other services... Even though I understand the intent, this may have a negative impact on our ability to deliver current services to students in our district."  (Source:
The proposed State cuts for Special Education services is just one of several proposals currently being considered that could cost D181 millions of dollars each year.  If proposed pension laws are passed, transferring funding responsibility to individual districts, or if property taxes are frozen, the district will be forced to spend down reserves or make cuts to programs since annual tax revenues will not be sufficient to fund existing services and salaries.
So we ask, is this REALLY the best time for D181 to be going to referendum to build a brand new middle school to the tune of $65 million?  Do we really want our property taxes to go up to build ONE school, or perhaps would it be more responsible and better for all of D181's students to go to an Operational Referendum in the next two years should state funding cuts and freezes actually be implemented?
Our choice is on funding student programs and teacher salaries, not building a Taj Mahal school with an elevated running track, auditorium and $450,000 atrium skylight (to name but a few of the bells and whistles in the current proposal).  With only 50 days to go before the referendum, the administration has still NOT made a recommendation to the BOE on how to fund the $65 million in bonds. Taxpayers still have no idea what the actual tax increase will be should the referendum pass, or over how many years they will share this additional tax burden.  It is not fair to taxpayers, parents, students or teachers, to keep us all hanging without complete referendum information.  But more important than that, it is not fair to any of these constituent groups to know that if we pass a $65 million referendum for ONE school in March, construction on this ONE building could be underway at the same time that services for ALL students are CUT, CUT, CUT.  How many tax increases does the Administration and BOE really think this community will support?  Wouldn't it be better for the Administration to bring these issues to the BOE to address at their next BOE meeting (on February 8, 2016) and be TRANSPARENT about the possible future negative impact that D181 may face?  Shouldn't the full BOE openly discuss the possible negative impacts State proposals may have on D181 and make plans NOW to avoid having to cut programs or eliminate teachers?
The onus is on Dr. White to show whether or not he can be an effective and strong leader.  It should not be enough for him to try and build one school and claim that as his legacy.  Instead, his priority should be on ensuring that no services or programs are cut for ANY D181 student, especially when (and if) $65 million in taxpayer money is poured into ONE school that will only serve a small percentage of our students.
Sound Off!


Anonymous said...

Perfect time to trim administrative staff, and all the fluff. How much are we paying ECRA? And how well attended are all the Parent Network Workshops? Plenty of waste.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should all start lobbying our legislators to just plain get rid of public education? Our property taxes would plummet dramatically, since most of the taxes go to D181 & 86. Plus, our income tax will go down since we wouldn't have to pay for their lofty pensions, either. This way, what we save in taxes can go to private schools, if we still have school age kids. If you don't have kids, you'll have several thousand more dollars for whatever you want.

jay_wick said...

While anything can be asked of legislators, it seems our local representatives, even though their titles suggest they are part of the leadership, seem much more interesting in photo opportunities that do more to cement them in the hearts and minds of folks that vote for sentimental reasons rather than for making any substantive changes.

Perhaps the post made at 12:28 was intended to be satire. Unlike Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal, I doubt that the folks that would most like to abolish public education care about "Preventing the Children of Poor People ... from Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick as there seems to be no shortage of funds to spend on lavish homes in our district, well attended Country Clubs and positively booming resturant patronage.

Taxes are likely to skyrocket in Illinois. The fiscal malfeasance of 30 years of kow-towing to insiders means that Illinois is driving away employers and residents at an alarming rate. Even the new "outsider" Comptroller Leslie Munger says that boosting the income tax back up to 5% will not be sufficient to pay CURRENT LIABILITIES -- Comptroller Tells Business Group: Income Tax Might Need To Be Hiked To 8% | Chicago
There seems to be far too little awareness of just how dire the situation is and how crushing the tax burden has already become in towns just a few minutes away -- Each day brings more pain and painful tax bills, so where’s the outrage?. In many suburbs that are just an exit or two south of our district along the TriState tollway homeowners are facing ANNUAL property taxes that are more than 5% of the average market value Suicidal Property Tax Rates and the Collapse of Chicago’s South Suburbs |Illinois WirePoints

Is this really the best time to commit the district to $65,000,000.00 in new debt?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with both this post and Jay Wick's comment!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there is an organized Anti-Referendum Committee? I'd like to join and get a yard sign. If anyone has info, please post.

The Parents said...

Did any of our readers attend either of the strategic planning meetings yesterday? If so, can you post a summary? Specifically, can you include how many people were in attendance, what the composition of the audience was ( parents, teachers, administrators), how interactive the sessions were, whether any concerns were raised by audience members and what topics were actually discussed?

Unknown said...

Jay-wick , how can you post a "I support education in D181" logo next to your comment and then question if a new HMS should be built?
Every single individual moves into the D181 community to educate their children. I have served on the Facilities Committee for 21/2 years, assessed functionality and educational adequacy of HMS and, when considering national standards & best practice, without a doubt whole heartily recommend voting in favor of a new HMS. Jay, you and I are both former teachers. How could you not support replacing the current abomination that is HMS. You reference "lavish homes, well attended country clubs and booming restaurant attendance" in D18. Well, I for one, who happens to be 65 years old and an empty nester, value our students' quality of education and will not only vote for a new HMS, but will lobby others to do so as well! I feel it is money very well invested not only in the future of the D181 students, but also in the community at large. I can stay home a couple of times from dining in one of the "booming restaurants in Hinsdale/Clarendon Hills/Burr Ridge" and put that money toward our student's education, In education, as in other industries, form should follow function! The current form of HMS DOES NOT ALLOW OUR TEACHERS TO TEACH & OUR STUDENTS TO LEARN THE WAY THEY SHOULD! If anyone wishes to discuss this issue, call (630-804-8538) me or email ( me. I will be happy to show you and discuss the supporting evidence...and take you on a tour of HMS.
Ann Mueller

Anonymous said...

Dear Ann,

Supporting a new HMS now is like rewarding a petulant child for poor performance and a bad attitude. Education will only get worse, not better. I suggest you spend some time reviewing the joke of a curriculum which now permeates D181, the plummeting test scores and compare them to neighboring districts who are doing more, with less.

Indeed, people move here for the schools, not the building. And when the schools suck, as they do, people will stop moving here. Everything is trending in the wrong direction. If you are really interested in saving your property values, you'll invest effort in cleaning up the curriculum mess.

Vote "NO," until D181 gets its act together!

Anonymous said...

Ms Mueller,

As an executive in corporate sales, I can appreciate your efforts to sell the community on the benefits of a new HMS. However, your children probably had a much better experience in the district than mine, a current HMS student and one who is now at Central. Yes, HMS is outdated, but that is the least of its problems. It may be difficult to accept this as an empty nester, but the price of my home, the high taxes I pay, and the frustration of dealing with stressed out teachers and incompetent administrators is just not worth the quailty of the education this district is offering at this time. I'm sure you have noticed the number of houses for sale, already, not to mention the high numbers last year. These are not just families transferring because of work; I know of and have heard of quite a few families who have left 181 because of the inadequate education their kids were receiving. We can all spend much less on housing and taxes elsewhere and get a solid education with better facilties.
It's nice you have enthusiasm for a new school, but it will not solve the bigger problem of what is a sub standard curriculum with no accountability for improvement. There is not one administrator I have spoken to, including the superintendent, who has a grasp of what should be going on in classrooms. They have all made excuses and continue to try out fads and trends with no expertise to back them up. I don't believe for a second the current administrators can handle a $65 million new school project, if they can't even get the basics of educating our kids in place.
Sorry, I will also be voting no.

Anonymous said...

Ann: First, thank you for your years of dedication and service to D181. The community should not just applaud all of your efforts and work over the years, but also recognize that you have dedicated yourself to improving the district.

Having said that, unfortunately, while I agree that a new HMS may be needed, even you must recognize that the process led by the administration (not you or any individual on the facilities committee) has been messed up. Having a design competition where the district's tried and true architecture firm didn't participate should have been the first red flag. Remember, that firm suggested in 2013 that a new middle school might actually cost $65 million and that price tag was met with disbelief and quickly shot down as too high. So that firm didn't participate in the competition and none of the three firms that did came close to proposing a $65 million school.

I don't recall anyone asking how they could have been so far below the original architect's suggestion in 2013. The facilities committee selected Cordogan after having to go through a ranking process twice, after questionable tactics were identified in first selecting another one of the three firms. The winning design was still questioned for some of the bells and whistles that were included and it appeared from board discussion that the winning firm was supposed to try and get the price down even further.

Once Cordogan was selected and on the eve of the board meeting at which the board was supposed to decide whether to proceed to referendum, rather than going down, the price tag suddenly shot up by 55% to $73 million. Everyone gasped with shock and horror at this new price tag, but no one suggested that perhaps the three firms had intentionally underestimated in order to win the design competition. Frankly, it was surprising to many in the community that a firm that had so underestimated the price tag of its winning design concept wasn't fired on the spot. Instead, in the span of one week after the price went up to $73 it magically went down to $65 million on December 19 and ever since then, the community has been taken on a rollercoaster ride where the price tag has gone up and down and up and down and now landed back at the $65 million mark that was discounted two years ago when the original architecture firm suggested it. Yet, somehow, now the administration is acting like $65 million was always the target number.

So I ask you, doesn't this process bother you? What in this process should result in the community trusting that the outcome is the right one?

Anonymous said...

I just want to thank Ann Mueller for her prior service as a board member and for her continued support for our schools and students and for continuing to volunteer for committees. With regards to comments made about Mrs. Mueller and educating her on the status of the curriculum, I can say that she is one person who has continued to speak up and stay informed. I have been in the audience when she spoke up on behalf of our children to voice her concerns about the Advanced Learning Plan. Every time I have heard her make public comment it is to educate, or to bring attention to issues whether it be with the board of ed or the administration or the curriculum. I feel it would be a shame to hold the future of HMS hostage until the curriculum issues are sorted out and until the state figures out what they want to do. Not supporting a new school when one is obviously needed will hurt us not the administrators. They will move on and we will be left with an aging facility. I trust Mrs. Mueller and value her efforts on behalf of our children and hence am willing to consider voting "Yes" for a new HMS.

jay_wick said...

Anyone that has followed the various twists and turns of the HMS saga might recall that long before HMS was afflicted with the disastrous "water intrusion event" I was opposed to wasting money on ill-conceived retrofits of that odd building. In fact, I suggested that instead of the BOE clamoring for Federal funds for some "shovel ready project" or relying on the specious advice of sleazy "energy performance contractors" whose lies led to the ill-fated decisions that froze the pipes, the right thing to do would have been to plan for the replacement of HMS more than seven years ago. Back when this blog was filled with vitriol over the colossal failures that forced kids from the whole district to share a disruptive split schedule at CHMS, I continued advocating for a prudent and cooperative solution.

I have stated in numerous BOE meetings that it is still clear that the current HMS building needs to be eventually replaced. When running for the BOE this time last year, I similarly made it clear that HMS replacement would likely be a very important issue. At that time I raised concerns that the timetable supported by other BOE candidates might be problematic -- the kind of folks that likely will head to the polls Tuesday March 15 2016 to select candidates in the primary may not be in the frame of mind needed to assess the best course of action for our school district. I similarly voiced those concerns even more loudly to the BOE when they decided by a bare majority, with troublingly brief deliberation, to ask voters to authorize bonds in a sum that may result in a building with serious compromises. The fact that some of the most dedicated BOE members voted against going to referendum with the information they were given should give anyone cause for concern. The contrast in how D86 is methodically trying to address all the facilities concerns that exist for both the Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South Campuses is part of my reluctance to back the current D181 request for $65,000,000.00 of new bonds. Though there is a long list of items on the district's report of "educational adequacy", only HMS would be addressed at a cost that is well over triple that of the district's other still relatively young middle school. When even the professional contractors admit that most of this price increase is due largely to the outsize compensation afforded those insiders that have long corrupted Illinois' politics one cannot help but question the wisdom of greenlighting such an endeavor.

I might further add that my strong support of education candidates in not just our elementary district but also D86, where I personally walked many miles, from the northern reaches of Oak Brook to the opposite edge of the district south of the Stevenson, helping to get out the word about the well qualified candidates that soundly defeated the mean spirited and divisive opposition, should stand as strong testament to values I work for. In contrast, one of the vaunted members of the Facilities Committee was still desperately advocating for a parking garage to accommodate shoppers in downtown Hinsdale during the eleventh hour meeting that the BOE called on an unusual Saturday morning to get the approvals in under the wire.

Sadly our district still does not have a clear policy toward meeting the needs of all learners and the lengths that district staff has gone to in obscuring this fact is finally trying the patience of even the most accommodating BOE members.

Though there is little question that HMS is not in character with the other schools that serve the learners of D181, I have grave reservations about the appropriateness of committing the district to such an expenditure at this time. To be frank, just as I ran as much to raise awareness / participation in last year's election, if more community members step forward to not just get involved in arm twisting for funding of new facilities but to advocate for more responsive education we will all be better off.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Mueller, thank you so much for your hard work. You always seem to genuinely care for what goes on in our district and work so hard to make this district as good as it can be. I applaud you for it. I think many of us on this blog, those who have been in HMS and those who have had students go through it know that HMS needs serious work. However, the issue is the administration, and some extent the board for not pushing the administration more. Due to all the curriculum issues, there's a lack of trust between the community & the administration. Also, even with this whole process. Going from a cost of $45 million to $73 million just a few days before voting on a referendum is so not kosher. And then going from $73 million to $65 million within a week. We need more well-thought out planning here. I looked at the facilities committee meeting agenda, and saw that there's now a design e, for $55 million. I saw the pros and cons. The only pro is "Cost," and even then that's with stipulations. $55 million is still a hunk of change, and if it needs even higher maintenance costs than we need now, and offer worse facilities than we have now (according to the pros & cons list), I'll vote a big, fat NO on the referendum. I don't want to to pay $55 million now and an additional $20 million or whatever over the next 10 years just to get it up to workable levels.

Something I'd like to know: many people complain about $65 million for a new HMS when CHMS was only $17 million. Mrs. Mueller, I don't know if you know the answer to this, but what issues does CHMS have? Did the administration or construction company cut too many corners? Has CHMS needed any renovations? How do the teachers & students feel in their classrooms? Are they too big, too small? Does it require only a reasonable amount of maintenance from a custodial & IT standpoint, or do they have to work especially hard to make sure things keep running? If we are going to spend tens of millions of dollars on a new building, I want our money's worth. Not a building where it overburdens the teachers and staff. I know they'll find a way to make it work, but make it reasonable. We don't need a "Taj Mahal" school, but something more along the lines of Goldilocks. Not overly nice, not a total, utter dump, but reasonable.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Wick. Unless your children hve personally experienced the disasterous pilots, elimination of services, and tyrannical leadership of the last 5 years, you have no idea of how low the quality of education has dropped in 181. I have been, and stil am a teacher in a nearby suburb and am stunned at the deterioration of the curriculum and professional development in our schools. I never expected the quality to be so low. However, now I realize that the wealth of this district's parents have cloaked the school's problems for years. Parents send their children to tutors. Teachers give inflated grades. This is not the same district that Mrs. Mueller's children were educated in. We need to find 1 good superintendent who is current on what the current educational research of John Hattie actually says. Then, he or she must COMMIT to use only the most successful of those evidence based methods to reach our children. Until pull out special education and gifted programs are restored to the way they successfully worked 10 years ago, my neighbors and I will never voluntarily spend another dime on any more half baked, failing ideas presented to us by the administration. Note how many private school signs you see in front of homes. None of those people will vote for a referendum either because those residents have been forced to send their children to private schools. Unless the district gets their curricular house in order, they will simply not know how to build a functional HMS.

Anonymous said...

Ann, thank you for your service to this district. I remember your time as a board member. I also remember that taxpayers approved a major referendum to build and remodel most of our schools. The best part about that era was that our schools were among the top in the state on a consistent basis. While the administration was not perfect, ( there were some accounting issues you will recall) we seemed to be top flight in terms of delivering education to all students. My children were bright (did not meet the "gifted" criteria). However they received advanced instruction in language arts and math. My kids went on to Central where they took and passed multiple AP classes. Many of my childrens' similarly non gifted classmates are now in medical school or similarly demanding collegiate and work careers.

Many of the posters are very concerned with what we see as significant academic erosion over the past 5 to 8 years. Successive boards to the one you served on made some hiring decisions which were terrible. A bad superintendent that additionally makes bad decisions and bad hires can affect a district for many years. That is what we are in the midst of now. Our test score declines are real. The lack of differentiated learning is real. Recall when you were a board member, approx. one third of the students received some sort of advanced instruction. The super stars were pushed even faster. Today, that has been gutted. We cannot expect Hinsdale Central to fix all these issues. Our children have to ready to go academically when they walk through those doors as incoming freshmen.

I support a new HMS as soon as possible. The process used by this same administration is flawed and bloated, irrespective of how bad the building is.

As many others have stated our priorities are to fix the administration, fix the curricula, and fix HMS. This group cannot fix the curricula ( they are mostly denying the problem) and build a new HMS.

People against the referendum are not denying the state of HMS, nor are they anti child and anti education. They want the entire system fixed.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Can they get nothing right? Below is a letter I just sent to Dr. White and the BOE. Feel free to post as a free standing comment.

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.

Respectfully submitted,

Yvonne Mayer

Anonymous said...

Ms. Mayer, thank you for all that you do. You have a lot more patience than I. I have talked to administrators, board members, etc. about issues I've had. All I've gotten is the standard "Thank you for the information, I'll take a look into it." Very rarely, if ever, do I get a response back, or a reason why they do something different. My only fear is that you may be turning into "That person." Rather than a reflection on you, it's a reflection of the district. So few people speak up at meetings, the administration probably thinks that it's a nonissue. You bring up many valid points that at least seems like many of us agree with. SO thank you so much for continuing to fight the good fight.

AS for HMS, I don't want to pay more taxes. If I have to, do it right! I don't want to hear teachers and parents complaining about issues at a new school 5-10 years down the line after it's built.

Anonymous said...

Ms Mayer, I am defending the BOE, nor do I profess any first hand knowledge of this incident. It is an open meetings act violation if 3 or more members are meeting, emailing, talking on the phone, etc. at the same time. If board member A talks to board member B and the next day board member A then talks to board member C, no open meetings violation has occurred. So in groups of two, BOE members could informally talk among themselves and not technically be violating the open meetings act.

I am not saying this is how it went down, but that is possible. I am not saying this is ethical, but I have witnessed enough public meetings to understand that with serious contentious issues, board members of different public bodies will informally consult with each other before public meeting and deciding.

Just a guess, that's all. Regardless, I am voting no on the referendum.

Anonymous said...

11:05, even if only 2 board members talk to each other at the same time, the decision to go with a $65 million option is one to be made at a board meeting, which was not done.

Yvonne Mayer said...

11:05: You may be right that it was a "chain" communication rather than one meeting with three board members, however, smaller groups of board members cannot speak for the entire board. Mr. Clarin stated that the focus had to be on $65 because that is what the BOE decided, however, the full BOE approved $65 million language for the ballot, Ms. Garg then stated publicly that this didn't mean $65 in bonds would actually be sold and then the BOE punted the ball back to the facilities committee to come up with cheaper iterations. The architects did just that and attempted to start a discussion about these options which Mr. Clarin "stopped" and then represented he'd had discussions with two board members and then said the BOE wanted to focus on the $65. I don't know how he reached that conclusion which clearly went against the instructions coming out of the last board meeting and so an explanation from him and the rest of the BOE is warranted.

As for me becoming "that person," I know I am perceived that way by many in the community. The reality, however, is that many times, I have been asked to be the voice of people who are too afraid to speak out publicly. I have obliged these requests, but would certainly appreciate others stepping up, especially if they share my concerns. Open and transparent government is the ONLY way that the corruption that has pervaded Illinois politics will be eradicated. We need to start with full transparency and compliance with open governance laws at the local school district level, if we ever expect compliance at the state level.

Anonymous said...

The "That person" thing reminded me of one time I casually talked to one of the administrators. I mentioned that there was a person who lived down the road from me (not Ms. Mayer) who has spoken out against the quality of HMS for decades. I didn't mention the name of the person, but this administrator immediately said, "Oh, you mean [person's name]?" It was funny in an unfortunate way that the administrator immediately knew who I meant.

I agree with what 11:04 said, being "That person" isn't necessarily a bad thing to be. You have many valid points, Ms. Mayer. It's just that no one else speaks up. Considering the actions of the administration, I understand how people don't see the point of speaking up.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you get on Madigan and Rauner's cases about no Illinois budget. If Governor Rauner and the IL General Assembly would get their acts together, D181 wouldn't have to worry about being shorted the $368.311!

Unknown said...

This is in response to Jan. 28 8:53 am's questions. A functional analysis of all the buildings in D181 was completed by Wight and Co., which included CHMS. At that same time, an academic adequacy assessment of all the buildings was completed by Healy Bender's Ted Roseboom. I was very relieved after five years of NOT having an administrator in charge of the District's buildings (When the head of Buildings and Grounds, Sue Kamuda, retired, Dr. Schuster did not replace her. In order to balance the budget, this position was eliminated and the Business Manager was suppose to watch the buildings!), our District's buildings were in good shape. Currently, a Ten Year Facilities Plan has been developed to address maintenance and capital improvement issues. The identified academic issues will need to be prioritized and a timeline to address them developed. So much of the Facilities Comm.'s efforts has been focused on HMS the past five months, a comprehensive discussion of academic issues at the buildings has not occurred yet. We will get to it, I promise!

You can find all the functional and academic assessments of each building on Board Docs. In 17 years, education has changed some what (improved I hope!) and CHMS has some identified needed improvements. They are listed in the assessment, but they aren't dramatic.

You asked if there were any corners cut when CHMS was built. I can tell you that the superintendent and BOE president at that time cut 25 feet off the MRC to satisfy the Village of Clarendon Hills' and neighbors to the east of the school's concerns. None of the other BOE members were told at that time that this was decided and I, being a BOE member at that time, didn't realize it until the concrete footings were in. A standard of 850 square feet classrooms was insisted upon, but I believe the core classrooms are even bigger than that. All middle school standard requirements were incorporated into CHMS and a traditional, attractive exterior was insisted upon. I wouldn't consider CHMS a Taj Mahal at that time and neither is the proposed new HMS. Both meet the standards for a middle school of its time. What needs to be realized is there is absolutely no space for expansion at CHMS, unless at some time in the future the District is allowed and able to buy the houses to the east. In the mean time, to address some of the academic accommodations and space issues at CHMS, the pupil population would have to be reduced by possibly sending students to HMS. Therefore, to accommodate the potential of additional CHMS students at some time, a larger square footage should be considered when planning a new HMS.

A comment was made concerning academic erosion in D181. I am fully aware of what you are talking about and this erosion has taken place over the course of about 8 years. As mentioned, it has been the results of bad hires and bad decisions.When an Asst. Supt. of Learning is hired who has their PhD in facilities, there are going to be problems. When a high performing district such as D181 has the gifted program eliminated, there are going to be problems. It is going to take time to turn this situation around. Getting knowledgable, experienced administrators who are educational leaders is necessary to turn this situation around. Sadly, the "pool" of such skilled, gifted educators is very shallow. However, with the SUPPORT of the D181 community, I think/hope it can be achieved. Please be part of the solution and do what you can to help.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ann for patiently answering questions. I don't always agree with you but I appreciate your service to the district.

Just a quick reminder to all posters to be courteous and respectful of others even if we don't agree with them. It is too easy on this board to anonymously trash people we don't agree with.

We need people to be on boards, the caucus and on these volunteer committees. You don't have to have a parent to be involved.