Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Comment of the Day: Dr. White Needs to Clarify Once and For All if HMS is Dangerous!

Moments ago we received the following comment.  It speaks for itself.  However, we do think it would be important and responsible for Dr. White to once again state (this time hopefully on the HMS referendum page on the D181 website) whether or not HMS is dangerous.  He recently said it was not, yet apparently, not everyone has gotten the message.



I doubt students' parents were even notified. Just like they were not notified about the released directory information, were parents notified ahead of time of the recently posted photo of HMS children walking through the halls at HMS on the "Vote Yes for HMS" Facebook page? 

Surprise, surprise, another failure on the district's part to obtain parental permission. Sure the faces of most of the students are conveniently blurred out, but not all are. Hmmm....I wonder who would have had access to our children in the hallways of HMS and permission to take a photo of them? A teacher, an administrator, or facilities member? Someone must know who took the photo, blacked out the faces, then posted it onto the political group's Facebook page. This political group seems to believe that rules don't apply to them. I don't think it's ok to publish photos of our kids, even if they blur out photos. I can't believe they did this. If they were allowed to enter the school and take photos, then who authorized this? If they were given a photo by the administration, then who authorized it's release? 

And to suggest as their photo comment does that the picture shows the "overcrowded and dangerous dash" HMS students have to navigate when changing from the portables to the main building is downright irresponsible. Once again, didn't Dr. White already say that the conditions in HMS are NOT dangerous? Didn't this political group have to take their reference to the building being dangerous down from their website after he made this declaration at a recent meeting? So now, they are trying to fear monger using Facebook? Dr. White, please tell them to stop with the theatrics and misrepresentations. If Dr. White thinks the building or its conditions are causing a danger to the students, then it shouldn't cost the community $65 million to fix those conditions now. They should be fixed regardless of the spending that kind of money. And if he can't get it done without spending $65 million then he needs to be fired.

But let's get serious now. This photo is downright silly. There is nothing wrong with the amount of children in the hallway nor is there anyhing wrong with the portables. Take a picture of any middle school hallway in America and you will see the exact same thing - lots of kids walking to their classrooms. But their hallways will probably be older than those in HMS. And they will probably have metal detectors. In fact, lets all go over to the high school and see how crazy those WIDE hallways and stairwells are during any passing period. D86 needs to go to referendum too but you can bet they are not going to suggest a total new building because the hallways are dangerously crowded during passing period!

And one last note, I have 6th grader at HMS and my child never once complained about a lack of heat in the portables or crowds. So I'm not sure where those comments are coming from.....

February 3, 2016 at 8:35 AM


Anonymous said...

This district has turned into a comedy sitcom. Not a day goes by where I don't sit down with my cup of coffee to read the daily episode. Seriously, someone in Hollywood should write a script and sell it. D181 could then get the national acclaim that we were all promised would happen if the Advanced Learning Plan was approved years ago. Remember? There was that fancy schmancy video produced where administrators and board members talked about being nationally recognized instead of just being a top district in Illinois. What a joke we've turned into.....So sad.

Anonymous said...

9:36: often times, I just want to grab a bag of popcorn and read this blog or listen to board meeting podcasts. Not to belittle the problems, but just the way people act in this district seems so unreal.

The Parents said...

We just deleted a comment because if references by name a community member. We are reposting with redactions, since the questions raised are good, but no one (except the political committee) knows who actually took the photo:

"The lack of respect and responsibility that is shown by the referendum group and administration is disconcerting. I just checked the Facebook page, and their information is incorrect. The hallway in that picture is not to the portables, but the hallway to the eighth grade classrooms on the second floor. Also, there is an after school keyboarding class in an 8th grade room (near where the picture was taken) which is taught by some parents of students (or former students). One of these people XXXXX, who's part of the pro-referendum group. Perhaps XXX took the picture while XXX was getting to teach the class? It may be possible that no one "authorized" XXX to take the picture, but is still irresponsible XXXX to take it without parental consent. I did a quick 5-minute search, and did not find that picture anywhere on the district's website. So either XXXXX took it while waiting to start XXX keyboarding class, or someone from the district took it and gave it to the referendum group. Regardless, this should not have been done."

Anonymous said...

Really? You really are going to get upset about a picture, where every effort has been made to protect the identity of the students, that is attempting to demonstrate the extreme overcrowding at HMS. Why aren't you more concerned about the fact that these students are having to be taught in a TOTALLY INADEQUATE BUILDING with 8 portable classrooms attached to it in order to house all the students??? Get your priories straight!

Anonymous said...

The building is not inadequate. The work product of the Facilties Committee and the Vote Yes for HMS is. And by the way, you are the only one who sounds out of control and upset.

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.

Anonymous said...

The photo has been removed from the political group's Facebook page.

Non-Parent D181 Voter said...

I'm not a parent at HMS, in fact, I'm not a parent at all, but I am a voter in D181 and I was curious about the part of the comment that said there had not been heat in the HMS portables. So I did a little digging. Here is what I found. The political committee's FaceBook homepage features a visitor post dated January 11, 2016, posted at 2:52 pm that states: "The middle schoolers at HMS heard on the announcements today "no heat in the portables today, bring your jackets". I think that was when it was about 7 degrees outside." Next, I went to the D181 Website and looked up the 1/11/2016 announcements on the HMS Page. Here is the link for the morning announcements that were READ to the students over the intercom that day:

The announcement stated: ​​6TH GRADE LA CLASSES​​ ALL 6th graders bring your jackets to class TODAY for LA, ELA, and Mrs XXX's Social Studies classes. Also, 6th grade LA classes in XXX, XXX and XXX's rooms please bring your headphones to class. Thank you!" (Note: I have redacted the teachers' names for their privacy's sake.)

No where does the announcement state that "no heat in the portables today." However, it does tell the 6th graders who take classes in the portables to bring their jackets.

I think it is worth having the D181 Administration (building or central) explain to the community at large why kids needed their jackets that day. Also, if as one parent commented, her 6th grader never complained, was it perhaps because this child was warm enough in his/her coat? But even if that is true, shouldn't parents have been notified somehow?

If the heat did not work, then why not? These are brand new portable units. If the heat went out or the temperature in the units went down, what caused this? Wasn't there proper oversight by the buildings and grounds crew on these very cold days to ensure that the systems were functional before school started that day? Who in the administration thought it was appropriate to hold classes in rooms that children needed to be dressed for outdoor weather in?

While I don't think this is a reason to build a new school, I do think it is a reason to fire someone who didn't do their job and make sure the brand new portables were "adequate" and "safe" and NOT DANGEROUS to our children.

If the Administration can't get this right, then in my opinion, they can't be trusted with much of anything.

Anonymous said...

If the referendum doesn't pass, what will HMS' plan be to immediately correct the drop off area off of Garfield? I noticed that a photo of the drop off lane was on the Yes on a new HMS page, but what will the facilities committee's back up plan be for this area if the referendum does not pass? Will they no longer be concerned with the safely of children there unless a new school is built there?

Considering how cheap it would be to tear out a tiny car pool lane and a few parking spots, I am shocked that this hasn't already been re-done. Hard to believe that the parents at CHMS were able to raise $200,000 for a new gym but HMS parents can't get their act together to widen an re-pave this area over the summer. The car pool drop off should have fixed BEFORE we spent a dime on technology talks or surveys. The drop off lane and parking area is dangerous and should have been properly fixed eons ago. I understand that that it was improved years ago when HMS finally built a new drop off circular specifically for school busses. This was a major improvement , but it hasn't solved the problem. How much did it cost to have that additional circular built? There is plenty of room for HMS to widen and improve the car pool drop off at the main entrance of the school facing Garfield.

Recently signs were placed along the sidewalk next to this area that said, "No Parking." Ostensibly, these signs were placed by the Hinsdale Police. But when parents violate this law on a daily basis, no tickets are given. I hate to suggest this, because I know it will put me at risk of getting a ticket if I ever have to drop anything off at HMS while my child is there, but police need to start giving out tickets for this violation. Without there being a significant number of violations in that area, the city and police will never knew exactly how many times a day people break the law there. HMS's drop off lane puts our school and our village at risk for lawsuits. But with that being said, I do not think it is fair for the pro-referendum people to ignore current, unsafe conditions by crossing their fingers and hoping that the referendum will pass. It won't pass and our kids at HMS are going to get stuck with unsafe conditions there again. The police and village needs to put some pressure on the district to improve this area ASAP if the referendum does not pass. We cannot afford to wait years for the district to get their act together when this car pool lane should have been fixed yesterday by The Foundation, D181, and the Village of Hinsdale.

Anonymous said...

3:59..the condensors on the portables were frozen. That is why there was no heat in the portables for those days.

Anonymous said...

All these hysterical people are posing a false dichotomy. The question is not whether the community should support renovations or a new school. The question is whether we should have a 400 dollar square foot building rammed down our throats as the ony choice when the price jumped tens of millions of dollars at the last minuted. I feel like I am being sold a time share, buy now or it will be too late. And I know this is how Illinois got to where it is generally, how we got where we are on curriculum, and how mistakes are made generally. Yes, I know the committees spent a lot of time, and yes I know people, good people, have an emotional affair with the idea of the new building, but grownup so don't make decisions that way.

Do we need the new building? Not want, Need. I have no idea. I want to see, open for all to see, what a comprehensive renovation would cost with a clear eyed view of the pros and cons of a renovation as opposed to a new building. Can we afford the new building? Illinois heading into rough waters, even in our prosperous little corner, where not everybody is so prosperous. Even if by some measure we NEED a new building, if we can't afford it we can't build it. Absent data and an explanation, nobody is going to rush me to buy a time share like this, let alone a 65 million dollar building.

jay_wick said...

There are five weekends between now and the referendum. Either both opponents and supporters are pursuing a "stealth strategy" (which strikes as exceedingly unlikely...) or there really are problems in both camps. I'm going to go with the latter.

Anybody that has been through HMS will fairly quickly conclude that the problems related to circulation of students, staff, and for that matter cooled/heated air are simply not correctable though any kind of normal renovation. The odd angles, overly steep central stairway, massive concrete construction and a design philosophy rooted in 1970s visions of kids clustered around some hippie teacher doing somersaults in a rayon jumpsuit is baked into the building. One could not modernize the building in any significant way while still occupied for use. Just as funky 70s era homes in town rarely make economic sense to renovate, neither does it make sense to preserve the current HMS. Even if one could afford to hollow it out like Soldier Field, the result would not be a classical looking building with an alien spaceship atop it, but instead an even less appealing situation of re-fitting a compromised interior into a shell that has all the charm of a detention facility...

Those who are opposed to any kind of expenditure on schools are easily disabused of the notion that HMS is a school for the ages. The long list of updates to its HVAC system, stop gap efforts to replace folding fabric dividers with actual drywall, and even "expansion" via a farm of portables that has grown and shrunk has cost the district well into the eight figure expenditures and those things have failed to keep the building from experiencing freezing fire sprinklers and leaky roofs. The stupidity of previous administrations to attempt to brush aside these issues resulted in not just the mess of low quality indoor air but a community that now trusts nothing related to the schools.

The confluence of not just the situation related to the facilities but the larger economic issues of just how massively untenable the Illinois school funding and pension scenarios have become demands that even the most affluent residents question their ability to remain here. There is no utility in forking over more and more of one's resources to support a system that long ago should have been reformed.

When that system of insiders using ill-gotten gains from over-charging public bodies for the facilities they may need, who then funnel that lucre back into the pockets of the criminal political power-brokers who turn around and redirect more of our tax dollars into the abyss of failing inner city schools that makes Illinois even less competitive one cannot sit idly by and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Had the architects and professional construction estimators come back with a number that delivered a well equipped replacement for HMS, with the exterior style favored, and at least some forward thinking niceties, that respected the reality of ever tighter budgets, I might have set aside concerns about inter-district consolidation and land use. When I see a number that approaches a doubling of the budget, is orders of magnitude larger than the expenditure on the district's other middle schools largely because of regulation that unfairly enriches insiders, and something that swelled more for a stylish exterior facade then innovative amenities, I cannot endorse such a future. When one thinks of the real benefits that would result in both a higher quality educational facility for kids from not just our existing district but a neighboring high performing district, reduced costs, and improve utility of land both in and outside the otherwise historic downtown, it is clear that seeking an alternative solution is the right thing to do. It can bridge the divide.

Anonymous said...

I don't seriously believe that renovating HMS is the right thing to do for the long term. Let's just remember that "experts" recommended that groovy design back in the 1970s when things like walls and doors and windows were "so outdated". Also remember that Monroe and Madison elementary schools were built decades before HMS and are still beautiful, functional buildings.

HMS is not going to fall down next year and the mold is gone and the portables are safe and heated.

People, let's take our time and get it right, because a properly designed school should still be around to educate THE GRANDCHILDREN of our current middle school kids.


Lets first get a district administration in place that will get our curricula, practices, and performance back where it was a mere 10 years ago. Out with the fads, back with the learning. Out with the consultants, back with real student differentiation.

Let's get the trust back before we start building things. For a wide variety of reasons, the trust is not there with the current administration. From terrible curricula, to borderline insubordination to the current BOE, to the way this construction process has been handled, trust is not there.

On to HMS. START WITH A FRIGGIN BUDGET!!!!! Don't ask Pepper( or preferably not a Chicago based construction firm) what it will cost. Tell the architect and contractor what our budget is, how many students it will have, what things like an auditorium and parking we need.

We built our home many years ago. We sat with a builder and told them our budget. We told them what we wanted in terms of beds, bath, garage, etc. We went back and forth on the cost and in the end we got the house we wanted for the amount we could afford ( ok, we spent more than we should, but not by much. Certainly not double the budget)

Get the Village of Hinsdale involved before you start. Discuss a shared parking garage. Discuss a 3 story building. Discuss alternative locations.

Reach out to other districts. See how we can consolidate buildings and or staff. Get creative. Financially, Illinois is a mess. Wealthier districts will likely be told to pay more.

Slow down. Look at all options ( and not just construction options). Get our students' learning back on track. Do it right. Come to the taxpayers and we will get a new school if that's what we think we need.

We have rejected new schools before that were poorly conceived. We have generously funded schools and expansions before that were well researched and well thought out. This unfortunately falls in the former camp of being a rushed, shortcut process by a group of administrators we don't trust.