As always, SOUND OFF!
COMMENT OF THE DAY:
Clarendon Hills Resident said...
Text from C4CH Newsletter:
Vote “NO” to the $65 M Hinsdale Middle School Project Press the Reset Button and Start Over with a $30M Project
C4CH would like to see a project at Hinsdale Middle School (HMS) but there is no way to rationalize the massive $65M cost (which will end up being closer to $90M with interest). We recommend a strong “NO” vote. We have much sympathy for the staff, parents and students at HMS due to management mistakes with both the frozen pipes and mold growing unchecked for years. Those issues were fixed at a cost of $3M only one year ago, with taxpayer (your) money. Even though we want the best for our children, it;s hard to justify a $65M project at $400/square foot (with average costs for middle schools less than $250/square foot).
There was NOT an exhaustive approach to reduce the costs and size. Other reasonable scenarios were NOT dutifully considered. Is it unreasonable for taxpayers to ask for a careful, analytic, and financially prudent plan led by parties interested in capping the spending at $30-$35M? It may not be common knowledge, but the architect and others receive a percentage of the project cost as their fee, so it makes sense for them to grow the project spending, not reduce it. These are primary points in which C4CH questions the validity and leadership in the process. Bigger and more spending does not result in smarter students or higher property values.
We have concluded that several reasonable scenarios have NOT been explored that upgrade HMS at a significantly lower cost. The $65M price tag for HMS with 780 students (only 20% more students at HMS than CHMS) is unbalanced relative to the 650 students and $17M spent on the very successful Clarendon Hills Middle School (CHMS). Construction costs have increased, but spending $400 or even $300 per square foot seems unreasonably high when the average is $232/square foot.
On a separate but meaningful note, we feel obligated to mention that Don White, the Superintendent of D181 recently released the seemingly confidential names and contact information of parents and students to a private lobbying group advocating for the $65M project. This maneuver by Superintendent White, without formal Board approval, seems to be unethical. This act alone taints the process and questions the Superintendent’s ethics as well as those involved.
Here are some unanswered questions to explore in depth;
1. Can a new addition be built adjacent to an upgraded HMS structure while utilizing the existing building?
2. The current HMS gym is nearly double the gym at CHMS with only 20% more students so why isn’t the HMS gym good enough?
3. Can’t the existing cafeteria space and most every other space be used?
4. Can the façade of the existing building be improved to fix the cosmetic issues and match a new 50,000 square foot classroom expansion?
5. Wouldn’t moving D181 admin offices to the existing HMS building save $?
6. Could the community privately raise funds for a new HMS auditorium if community demand exists for the auditorium?
7. What is the total financial liability D181 has accumulated for taxpayers? Include debt, interest payments, pension liabilities, health care liabilities, and routine capital repairs.
8. What actions are underway to reduce operating costs and debt levels of D181?