Thursday, March 10, 2016

A New Series: The REST of the FACTS on the HMS Referendum. Part 1 -- Cost and Impact Analysis

Tonight we begin a new Series that deals with the March 15 HMS Referendum.  Five days from now, the polls will be closed and D181 taxpayers will have cast their votes on whether to authorize the building of a new $65 million Hinsdale Middle School ($90 million with bond interest).  We encourage all D181 residents to cast their vote on or before Tuesday and let the democratic process play out.  YES, NO, WIN, LOSE (depending what side of the debate you fall on), come Wednesday morning  a decision on the $65 million referendum question will be made, and we will all have to live with the results.  Voters should take the time to review all of the available information before they make a final decision.  D181 has sent out out many newsletters and posted documents to its website that deal exclusively with the HMS referendum.  This Series will address the information that D181 has highlighted and the information it has chosen to gloss over or simply not present.  We leave it to you to decide the significance of the information, misinformation or lack of information that D181 has been circulating.  

Today D181 Residents received a glossy, color, 2 page flyer in the mail that purports to provide the FACTS on the HMS Referendum.  (The flyer can also be found at the D181 website at: http://www.d181.org/data/files/gallery/ContentGallery/Community_Mailer__FINAL.pdf

This flyer was NOT prepared or paid for by the Vote Yes For HMS citizen's committee. Rather, it clearly states that it is "A Publication from Community Consolidated School District 181." That means that it was most likely created by the very highly paid D181 Communications Director. Since it was delivered through the US mail, in addition to the paper and ink supplies needed for the thousands of flyers printed and mailed to all D181's Postal Patrons, the postage was also paid for with D181 taxpayer dollars.  We'd like to start off by asking, HOW MUCH DID THESE MAILERS COST?  DID THE BOE AUTHORIZE TAXPAYER MONEY TO BE USED FOR THESE FLYERS? 

Now we all know that D181 administrators and BOE members are not allowed, under Illinois law, to advocate or encourage YES votes. To do so is illegal.  They are only allowed to present FACTS regarding the referendum. This creates a lot of gray areas, where one could argue that by not presenting ALL the facts that might lead a taxpayer to vote NO, the D181 administration is in effect encouraging YES votes. We will leave it up to you to decide whether or not this flyer was the "objective"type of brochure that is permissible by law.  

In our opinion, the D181 administration conveniently omitted many FACTS that might lead D181 taxpayers to vote NO.  In the interest of fairness, each part of this Series will copy D181's presentation of facts in BLUE.  Then we will post additional FACTS in RED that we think you should consider before election day.

Part 1 of this Series presents additional FACTS on the Cost and Impact Analysis discussed in the D181 mailer.

The D181 mailer states:  

"Should the referendum be approved, the Board has determined that payment of the new debt would begin in 2018-19, when construction of the HMS building is to be completed. Therefore, homeowners would see an increase in their tax payment in 2019 (estimated at $263 for a $500,000 home and $537 for a $1 million home). However, because the District's existing debt will be paid in full by Fiscal Year 2024, homeowners would see a decrease in their tax payment in 2025 (estimated at $382 for a $500,000 home and $781 for a $1 million home). If the final costs were less than $65 million, the Board of Education would not sell bonds for $65 million, but rather only sell bonds for the actual amount needed.  The Board would not have the option of using remaining funds for another project (i.e. facility work at another school),as the referendum seeks approval to use the funds specifically for the HMS facility project."

Here is information on the Cost and Impact Analysis that the D181 administration didn't highlight:

1.  2025 should be the long awaited year when property tax bills decrease after the bonds that financed the last four referenda are finally paid off with our hard earned tax dollars. According to the information provided on the HMS Referendum Debt Service and Homeowner Impact Analysis prepared by the D181 administration a $500,000 home CURRENTLY pays $563/year and a $1 million home CURRENTLY pays $1147/year in taxes to pay for the bonds used to finance the past referenda. No doubt, many families in D181 would love to have that extra money to spend on their personal "needs," not just their "wants."  Alas, that will not happen if the HMS referendum is approved.

2.  If the HMS referendum is approved, a $500,000 home will pay an ADDITIONAL $263/year for the first six years (2019-2024) after HMS is built. The property tax payment for the HMS referendum bonds will then INCREASE to $444/year for the next 12 years (2025-2036). A $1 million home will pay an ADDITIONAL $537/year for the first six years (2019-2024).  The property tax payment for the HMS referenda bonds will then iINCREASE to $903/year for the next 12 years (2019-2036).

3.  To suggest that a taxpayer's bill will GO DOWN after 2025 is a spin on the truth of the HMS referendum facts. The FACT is that the portion of your tax bill that covers repayment of the HMS referendum bonds will INCREASE in 2025 by 60%.  While you will no longer have to pay for repayment of the bonds that financed the past referenda, in our opinion, it is disingenuous for the D181 administration to not thoroughly explain this fact and spin it as an overall tax decrease starting in 2025.

4.  Here's what taxpayers will actually pay over the life of the bonds on the HMS referendum alone:

  • $500,000 home will pay $6906.
  • $1 million home will pay $14,058.
  • $1.5 million home will pay $20,964.*
  • $2 million home will pay $28,116.*  
  • $2.5 million home will pay $35,022.* 
  • $3 million home will pay $42,174.* 

The amounts listed above are not insignificant. In fact, what D181 taxpayers need to remember is that these amounts are in ADDITION to the rest of the property taxes that they pay to D181 to fund the day to day operations, teacher salaries and programs in all 9 schools, and they pay these taxes whether or not they have a student attending the schools. Each voter will have to make a personal decision on whether they can afford to pay the above amounts to build ONE school. And even if they can afford it, they must decide whether the $65 million project is is the right one, at the right time for a district (as some of our readers have pointed out) that faces future financial uncertainty.  

More on that as the Series continues......


____________________
*  This is an estimate based upon the information provided in the HMS Referendum Debt Service and Homeowner Impact Analysis on the D181 website.










31 comments:

Anonymous said...

No 4 is very significant- I'm sure the voters have no idea-

Anonymous said...

Yes, those tax dollar figures are large, but so were those for the last referendum. And, since most people agree that we need a new HMS at some point in the near future, how much will we really be saving if a referendum for $45-$50 million is passed in year or two from now? It's not really a significant difference if you believe that the new HMS needs to go. These figures are only significant if you don't support a new HMS at all and are hoping to get rid of those taxes altogether. For now.

In the meantime, are we just kicking the proverbial (and expensive either way) can down the road? With the repairs that are needed in the short-term, as well as any unforseen additional repairs, will we end up paying close to $65 million either way? I'm beginning to think that we will. And, let's not forget the increasing enrollment at CHMS. It is likely that this will continue which will necessitate a move by Monroe families back to HMS - something that will benefit the remaining students at CHMS who will not be in overcrowded classes and Monroe students who will attend a new school. This move and solution to the overcrowding is only possible if we build a new HMS that can accommodate increased enrollment. While building for too many students isn't smart, neither is building for the exact number of projected students, it's too inflexible and leads to overcrowding issues as we see now at both middle schools. It's a balance and everyone needs to realize that we haven't done a great job of it at the middle school level with our past 2 builds.

And, for those who think that a new HMS won't improve all of our property values, have you driven by those portables lately? A colossal eyesore that isn't helping to sell any houses or encouraging new businesses to put down roots here. Yes, the path to referendum was less than perfect, yes, the curriculum has problems (my children have been directly impacted here so I get it) and yes, it is a lot of money. But, are the alternatives over the next 5 years any better?

The Parents said...

We received a comment this morning at 8:15 which we will not be publishing. While it was posted anonymously, we are pretty sure we know who wrote it. The very first sentence is nothing but a series of nasty name-calling. If you have something of substance to say, please resubmit, but we will not publish your comments any longer if they are just a series of insulting statements.

Anonymous said...

Are you really trying to misconstrue fact from fiction? This misinformation is disturbing

Anonymous said...

Bloggers, it looks like you also removed the comment at 8:47 p.m. that referred to "Bloats" and that a later comment on your last post referenced. The 8:47 comment was very mean-spirited and unhelpful so I am glad that you took it down. I posted a comment saying that that comment was rude and mean-spirited. Which it was and which is not name calling

Ann Mueller said...

The Parents...I certainly hope you aren't referencing me as the person you think sent the 8:15 post that you are not posting. I agree with you that nasty name-calling is totally inappropriate. It doesn't persuade anyone to consider a position nor is it something we would want our children to emulate. Using insulting statements will only force people to ignore or discount those statements. I'm confident that you, the Parents, will continue to "take the high road" and not post incorrect information or inappropriate comments.

I applaud 8:08 on their comments. It is an excellent summary of many of the reasons to support the new HMS referendum. I hope individuals that read this blog will be open-minded, digest this information and seriously consider all this information.

Anonymous said...

8:08 A couple of things.

First, I think you are correct that the last referendums were large at that time but the economy was in a lot better place. To continue to fail to acknowledge the effects of the great recession on people's income, etc is to be in complete denial of what is going in on economically. Its sort of funny how people cannot see what is right in front of them. I read a comment the other day about Nixon getting elected over McGovern and the author quoted a phrase by Pauline Kael that went something like "I don't know a single person who voted for him." Think about that and its implication. You are so focused on the kids, the hyperbole, etc and you are wondering why you can't sell the entire district on a building that appears to be designed with less than a modest approach. People are facing very uncertain futures economically, as is the state and instead of approaching this in a way that solves immediate problems, the Yes HMS crowd opted to go for a homerun.

My advice next go around is 1) Have a well thought out addition to the school. One that hits on the needs, not the wants. I know the SE Hinsdale crowd sees this as the opportunity to get a new school and if they put an addition on they may never get a new school, but such are the times. 2) When trying to justify what is needed, and you say you want to have 180 sq ft per student then you need to look at the whole district. The smart move would be to move part of the Monroe kids back to HMS. Say the western boundary is Vine St etc. Those kids can walk to HMS. Kind of silly to be busing them. In that way the CHMS school raises its sq ft per student. Everybody gets something. Lastly, if you think that by getting rid of those portables and putting in a state of the art school in South Hinsdale when about 1/4 of the town won't be attending it, I suspect you won't get any of their votes because their property values will decrease. People vote their pocket books by and large. Everybody in the district needs to benefit. No doubt the Madison boundary area will see a boost in property value but the Monroe one would see a decrease. The proHMS crowd has been broadcasting for months comparing the new HMS vs CHMS - 132 sq ft per kid, crappy gym, non state of the art performance center, etc. You don't think that will be relevant to new buyers. Seriously, the people are so emotional on this issue they can't think clearly. The shining star of the district would be HMS, if you want the others to vote for it, you need to take away the disparity it will create.

So, if you want everybody to vote, the next time, make sure there is something in it for everyone and it is modest in approach. The entire district (I may be wrong) is not going to march in line with a group that wants the best school possible at a break the bank price to the detriment of the rest of the district. If people vote yes, that is great, but I think strategically the district completely mishandled this. I hope post vote, if it fails, the district and the BOE will replace members of the facility committee. Not because they did anything wrong but rather, it is a issue of trust. It would also be nice to see a couple board members go. Some of the members just are not relevant and have been on this board for multiple terms where things just don't work. They need to go. Maybe fall on their swords so to say.

The Parents said...

8:57 - we do not know which 8:47 comment you're referring to but we did not remove the bloat comment.

The Parents said...

8:52 -- we do not understand your comment. Which misinformation are you referring to?

Anonymous said...

9:52 and others, School buildings do not drive property values. Test scores, academic reputation, success of graduates, etc. is what makes a desirable community and therefore property values. If we don't get our curricula fixed and our academic standards back where they were 10 to 15 years ago, all the beautiful buildings in the world will not help our property values. People moving to Hinsdale are looking at the North suburbs as well as Western Springs and Oak Brook for comparison. I am sure others look elsewhere, but you get the idea.

I can't tell you what New Trier or Stevenson even look like. I can tell you they have outstanding test scores and their graduates do very well. Hinsdale Central is a 60 year old building with age appropriate modifications. It is academically far superior to Nequa Valley and Metea Vally out in Naperville that have beautiful newer buildings and beautiful swimming pools. Academics trumps buildings every single time.

While Hinsdale Central is still outstanding ( most of those kids went to D181 before the last two supers were here), I really worry that our elementary schools are badly slipping.

I like your idea of a thoughtful, flexible addition to HMS. Having the ability to move the attendance boundaries around as numbers change over the coming years and decades is smart planning going in.

I would rather have much more modest plans at HMS and spend the next 3 to 5 years on a top to bottom overhaul of our academic standards. As many bloggers have said, the current administration cannot handle either one of these major tasks.

Anonymous said...

Well said, 10:31am!!

Anonymous said...

Not sure what 9:52 is talking about, board or committee members and members not being relevant. If you have been in the district for the past few years, the superintendent sends out emails when they are looking for new committee members. Anyone can join them unless there are too many applications and then they have used a selection process. You should volunteer if you aren't happy. If you have attended any board meetings over the past few years or been engaged you would realize the value of ex-board members being involved since no one has more knowledge or historical background than these people, well the ones that were engaged and cared about the students and the schools. Many times they have spoken for parents who don't want to alienate their school staff or the administration. I appreciate the people who have volunteered since they are not getting paid and don't seem to have something to gain from this. They gave their time, have used data and a process to do what's best for the students and facilities. Blaming committee members, teachers, administrators, board members, other community members is not going to take away the problems we are facing from years of mismanagement and neglect of facilities. There is no guarantee you will like the next set of volunteers. Use the democratic process and speak up where it counts instead of on this blog. Being discounted previously doesn't give anyone the excuse to give up or be less engaged or expect the same people to always speak up. Then we can't complain about other people who step up.

Anonymous said...

10:31

I couldn't agree more. The curriculum is the key. Right now D181 is slipping. People may not want to agree with this but it is and it all starts with leadership. The BOE has been ineffective since the prior president. If anything, this adventure has shown that for those who normally don't pay attention, how weak and ineffective some of these members are. I guess the message to all is if you aren't really qualified, then don't run. Some of these people are great individuals but they have proven to be pretty weak board members. I would say some seem more like politicians and there is no time for that.

On the building, to deny that some in Hinsdale see this as an opportunity to rid themselves of a building that doesn't fit their eye is ignoring the truth. The problem is, they want the rest of the district to pay for it. To those that truly want to address the space issues and the portables, I think most in the district would go along with addressing that. An addition of 8 to 10 classrooms on the west side of the school seemingly would be an easy thing to do. But, that completely kills any opportunity to rid the community of this perceived eyesore. This is the real issue. This is why they don't want to fix the roof. All the other stuff in Wights report can be easily addressed very economically. This is all about trying to get rid of this building and any move that is made from here on out makes the liklihood of that happening less and less.

Oh well, we will see what happens after the vote. If it doesn't pass, I hope to see some shakeup on this board and facilities committee. I would hope they focus on Mr White and this curriculum whilst the facilities committee is reconstituted to honestly look at renovation and additions. Personally, I would hire Wight to come up with a 10 yr plan to do this. Starting with the addition of classrooms, a facelift, then a new gym, then build out third floor, etc. I am certain for a fee they would be glad to do this. Sometimes you can't get what you want, but you can get what you need. The SE crowd will be aghast at this but until they have enough votes, they probably will have to live with it.

D181 Dad said...

11:29: You have obviously been picked for committees time and again (if I am correct in who I think you are). You are lucky, I guess. I on the other hand, a Dad in D181, have volunteered and not been selected. The reason given -- too many applicants so I didn't get picked in the "process." What process is that exactly that leads to the same few names getting on multiple committees? Just asking.......

Yvonne Mayer, Former Board Member said...

All of you who see fit to bash the board as a UNIT are blind to the realities of serving on the D181 board. Very rarely is the board unanimous. There is usually a majority and a minority -- regardless of the issue. So it would be better to identify the individual board members you are taking issue with, rather than lump them all together. Just to be fair.

Anonymous said...

10:31, you are so right. This referendum effort has created a mammoth distraction from the problems inside our classrooms. The board of education has paid little attention to the falling test scores and stagnant growth of our kids. As someone on this blog pointed out, White cleaned off the Learning for All messaging on the district website. Interesting. Just before the voting takes place, they finally decide to scrub this failed plan from public view. I'm sure they think they will hire a savior for the curriculum, but one person can't do it all and do it well and fast. There is still Don White to consider, who is on record of supporting the very practices that got us into this mess. He is not fit for the job of running the district, and neither are his administrators. Giving away our personal contact information to the the pro-referendum group was a huge red flag and it's still waving.
The reality is we have no leadership in the district and certainly none on the board. These are the last people I would trust with our tax money for a new school.

Anonymous said...

12:20pm I agree with the majority of your comment, with the exception that there is no leadership on the Board. Leslie Gray and Rich Giltner have demonstrated leadership and are trying to do the right thing by our students and the taxpayers. Unfortunately, they have the rest of the Board, White and his staff to deal with.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 11:42. I was shocked to know how many qualified, educated parents were flatly rejected to be on the curriculum committee over the last couple years. The fact that the district required volunteer parents to submit resumes and applications was shocking, especially since they rejected many former teachers. In the end, many of the people they selected applied after the deadline, and, did not turn in any paperwork. This was under the direction of Dr. White. When you always see the same people on these committees, no wonder nothing ever changes. If the district ever wants to reach consensus, it is vital that they allow more participation and transparency in committees and meetings.

Anonymous said...

2:13- I assume you are talking about the learning committee? This year there are four parent members of the committee and I know at least three of them were/are teachers with advanced degrees. Where did you get the info that many of them did not turn in any paperwork and/or applied after the deadline? I also wonder how many out of those four did so for you to say "MANY of the people they selected..."

Anonymous said...

10:08 - Look up he information about the selection process for the first learning committee on the blog. That is the only place you can find out information that the district tries cover up. The resumes of every applicant were posted.

Jill Quinones said...

It is true that the selection of the FIRST learning committee was a classic Chicago-style patronage event with Admin (under Dr. Schuster) going out and recruiting those who supported them AFTER the application process was to be closed. There were a few more irregularities in that process as well. The selection of the SRCOND committee, on which far fewer parents sit, was done in a more traditional manner with respect for deadlines and an attempt to choose parents who had relevant backgrounds to help understand the content and move the discussions forward. Unfortunately, we need some permanent (not interim) Admin leaders who can do the same thing. Hopefully that is coming soon.

Anonymous said...

For anyone interested in this issue, either for or against, early voting is still available this weekend at the Downers Grove Village Hall 801 Burlington Avenue ( 9 to 5 today) and at Yorktown Mall the Plaza Sops a Yorktown 42 from 9 to 5 today, 10 to 4 tomorrow and 8 30 to 7 30 on Monday

Anonymous said...

What was the original budget the district set for HMS before the project began?

Anonymous said...

I decided to take a look at the boardocs to see what was on Monday's agenda. What a disappointment. The day before the board and Don White are asking us for more tax money, there is nothing listed that relates to learning and teaching in the schools. Instead I find a saturated organizational chart with plenty of staff and assistants galore. More than we have ever had. Then I see White's excuse of a report that has his rationale for why the winter MAP test will continue. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the board tell White to DISCONTINUE the winter MAP test? Take a look at the reasoning for why we shouldn't interpret too much into the results after our kids spend their classroom time on this test. But don't worry, the PARCC test is just around the corner!
This is what they have to offer us now.
I have seen enough to know I will be voting NO.

Anonymous said...

This is 10:08 again. According to Jill Quinones it sounds like the shady selection process of the learning committee was just an issue the first year. I guess I don't find it helpful to complain about the first year's process when they have fixed that problem. Let's move on shall we?

Jill Quinones said...

9:56

I, too, will be voting NO on the current HMS plan, but FYI unless you saw something I didn't in Dr. White's report, it is not rationale for why the winter MAP will continue. It is an attempt at an explanation of how that data was used this year because there were some reports posted that suggested kids made more growth from winter of last year to fall of this than they did from fall of this year to winter of this year (there was a winter to winter report and if you subtracted fall to winter growth this year the winter to fall was bigger). This is an attempt to explain why you cannot do that, according to NWEA. It's a lot of statistical hook focus and why we really didn't need the winter MAP this year for all students.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jill for your explanation. It seems that my child lost out on valuable instructional time taking the winter MAP. I've listened to the Curriculum Committee podcasts and know that you and others on the committee -- Leslie Gray and Jennifer Burns and Mridu Garg -- didn't want to go forward with the Winter MAP but White and Company pushed it through (even though the committee and board had been told it was going to be discontinued this year). This tells me that White and Company are not doing what's in the best interest of my student -- or others. I hope that Schneider isn't the only administrator heading out the door at the end of this year. In my opinion, any remaining "old guards" in the curriculum dept. should be shown the door, for all the harm they've caused.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the new vote no to HMS - $65m is too much - yard signs!!! Reminds me of the purple signs a year ago......

Anonymous said...

Nothing of substance is happening with our curriculum. If 9:56 is correct, Monday's board meeting will again, not address learning or teaching in our schools. 10:33, feel free to move on if you are satisfied. The rest of us see no reason to move on until some positive changes are made.

Does anyone have any details on exactly how our children can successfully refuse the PARCC test? Last year, the district claimed that it was illegal for our children to refuse the test, and forced them to take it. They also said that there was no process for parents to opt their children out of the test. If the parents did not like the district's stance, they were asked to pick their children up from school, and then take them back when the test ended.

My children are already taking MAP twice a year, SAT practice, and are doing well, I would much rather they be allowed to work on finishing their 2 hours of daily homework during that time. The financial penalty for schools or districts never been enforced. If the Learning Committee is able to respond to parents in this regard, perhaps then I will begin to gain trust in this group and the administration.

Jill Quinones said...

12:06 - The bill that was introduced to allow parents to opt their children out of PARCC was never passed. Therefore, the status of the law on this remains the same - in general, parents cannot opt their children out of PARCC. Some IEP students might have IEPs that opt them out due to severe anxiety or some other diagnoses, but I personally don't know of any of these Children, of course, can refuse the test when told to take it, but most districts handle this as student defiance under their behavior policy - teacher asks you to do something and you refuse. Students can also just take the test without using any effort, but they will still have to sit there and take to.

The financial penalty may never have been enforced (and I don't have evidence either way on this), but I can understand why the District would not want to risk this for a handful of children who will be sitting reading a book as there will be no teachers available to teach.

Unfortunately the Learning Committee cannot do anything about state law. I just keep hoping IL will wise up and see what a waste of time this test is. Il is now one of only 7 states and DC. Also, here's an interesting link revealing the kids who took it on computer scored lower than those who took it paper pencil: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/02/03/parcc-scores-lower-on-computer.html

The Parents said...

We have decided not to post anymore comments on this post. They are no longer productive.