Saturday, March 19, 2016

Breaking News: Special BOE Meeting called for Monday, March 21, 2016 to Discuss the March 15 Referendum

This morning we received the following comment informing our readers of a Special Board Meeting that has been scheduled for Monday night to discuss the HMS Referendum.

Anonymous said...


Looks like the D181 BOE will hold a special meeting in two days - Monday, March 21 starting at 7:15 pm at the Administrative Offices:

http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=A86SCK5BC76E

On the agenda -- March 18 Referendum discussion. Guess they must actually mean, March 15 Referendum discussion. Would have been nice as a D181 parent or key communicator to have received an email from the Director of Communications about this meeting as soon as they decided to hold it. Maybe they don't want anyone to show up......

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOL. Looks like the Admin must be reading your blog. They have corrected the March 18 mistake on Board Docs agenda......

Anonymous said...

Ann Mueller never should have served on the 181 facilities committees. She was a part of the major debacles of many referendums when she was on the 181 board and president. Her board twice tried to pass the same referendum for one large middle school at the current site, and they failed TWICE. They finally listened to a group of people recommending two middle schools but only after creating enormous animosity in the community. They had a chance to purchase Suburban Hospital property, the SE corner of 55th St and Countyline Rd., at that time. They met with Cook county, who later sold it to the current owner, but passed up that opportunity. Mark Twain quote, "Buy, land, their not making it anymore."
They tried to purchase the four houses at new Prospect school site twice, paying earnest money twice. Lucky homeowners. They passed a poorly thought out referendum to do an "addition" to The Lane. After that referendum passed the board realized they had enough money to build a new two story school on the parking lot but had to do the addition because of the wording "addition" of the referendum. People said The Lane became like an octopus because of how it spreads out. The Lane has the smallest acreage of 181 schools. A new two story building would have been a better use of the land.
If we don't get a new HMS it's because the recent referendum was not good. The people in our community recognized a bad plan when they saw it.

Anonymous said...

The vote yes crowd just published notice of this meeting on their Facebook page. We need to make sure that the vote no side is fairly represented. I urge everyone to attend the BOE meeting - Monday night at 7:15 at the administration center

30+ year resident said...

4:51 - By writing what you just did - it is pinning people against each other again! Nobody knows what the BOE is going to do next, so how can you say the No side needs to be represented. Are you already telling people to vote NO before you even know what the next step will be? Those that voted YES did so because they know HMS needs to be re-built. And there are many NO voters that felt that way because of numerous reasons - one of them being the price, but acknowledged something needs to be done. Why would you want people to show up to already cause another divide? Why continually call people Yesses and Nos? We should be a community of residents who all want what is best for the kids and people should absolutely go to the meeting - to be part of the process - not just to already take a NO position. Please don't start off with such negativity and divisive words.

The Parents said...

Everyone needs to calm down. The best course of action is to attend the board meeting on Monday, first listen to what the board duscusses as their next steps and then if they don't seem to make sense, which they may very well not, step up and make a closing public comment. This will be the first of many meetings in the near future that should be held to thoroughly vet all options. Nothing is going to be decided on Monday, rest assured. If either side shows up with metaphorical pitchforks and starts acting like a angry mob, nothing constructive will happen.

30+ year resident said...

Thank you Parents! Exactly my point..... leave the pitchforks at home. Better yet - throw them in the recycling bin!

jay_wick said...

It is beyond ironic that folks who've been covering their social media sites with lamentations over the harm to "community" are the very same people that have used every opportunity to post images of drip collecting containers in the existing HMS, spread stories of poor temperature control / air quality at the school despite the expenditures of over $7M on projects that were designed specifically to address these concerns, and ignored the direct refutation of these concerns by both the district's superintendent as well eminently qualified local PhD holding parents.

It is further disappointing that committed community members refuse to consider the potential for different approaches to solve the problem of overcrowding / inefficient space at HMS as well as the failures of previous "experts" when it comes to space planning and facilities maintenance. Those of us with a better recollection of history in the district do recall that community members who offered up a wider range of ideas and directly addressed how benefits might flow to all were ultimately responsible for the solutions to prior overcrowding issues, as well as responsible for compelling the district to address concerns that existed at all of the schools, regardless of how "prominent" or "inconspicuous" their location may be. Those with longer memories will recall that once upon a time the Lane attendance area was considerably smaller, prior to the successful effort to de-annex the portion of Hinsdale that lies east of County Line Rd and north of the BNSF from Western Springs schools. Part of the negotiation that successfully resulted in unification of district boundaries with the residential areas of the Villages including ceding the land that fronted Ogden (and now is home to medical/Starbucks/Whole Foods site) to the jurisdiction of Western Springs schools so property tax would continue to flow to them with no negative impact. Folks with even longer memories will recall that once upon a time Clarendon Hills was not part of D181, and that successful consolidation (along with changes like the Chicago Ave / Rt 83 overpass) have been unassailably beneficial to folks in both towns. We need more people willing to see past current hurdles and envision a brighter future, not naysayers who dig in their heels over things they do not favor / plot retribution against those not in agreement with their views.

The biggest questions that the BOE faces: how to respectfully acknowledge the errors that led to the defeat of the current proposal, appropriately address the most serious short term issues of HMS condition, continue to move forward with a coherent effort to truly look at all options, and build a more cooperative spirit for future success. These are things that must be addressed as soon as possible!

The Parents said...

Jay WIck: Your last paragraph is spot on!

Anonymous said...

Although I am in agreement with the Jay's last paragraph, the question that needs to be addressed now is what to do about HMS and D181 curriculum. The things Jay is suggesting are fine but they need to be put on the table now and not be seen to be a stall tactic to get something resolved on this hot button issue. Hopefully Jay is prepared to bring this up at the BOE meeting during public comment or it is going to just get railroaded under. I am still wondering where the incentive is to D53 and the people of Oak Brook in agreeing to even entertain. It is nice to have big picture ideas but money talks and something is going to have to be generated to show a benefit financially. This is the reality we live in. I am inclined to become a Yes vote if they can get the lightening rod items out and this thing down into the 48 -52 MM range (no auditorium or running track) and a haircut on the price per sq ft.

Ann Mueller said...

Part 1: 3/19, 2:29, After reading you comments about me, I feel the need to respond. First of all, unless you personally lived in the D181 community in the 1990's and 2000's and were personally active in the referenda that were run during that time period, you would have no idea what the circumstances were surrounding the referenda you mentioned. Your comments, that those two failed referenda for renovation and addition to HMS were "debacles," indicates you have no idea what the circumstances were during those times. Yes, those two referenda failed. For your information, I obstained on the votes for those two referenda because, though I totally recognized the extreme need for addressing the overcrowding at HMS at that time, I was very concerned about creating a building that would have a pupil population of 1,200 students at that small of a site.

Also, for your information, it took the failure of those two referenda to draw the D181community's attention to the extreme overcrowding issue at HMS and then encourage the community to contemplate other possible solutions. I personally was totally in support of a second middle school in D181, which would allow for two smaller middle school populations. Having taught middle school in Indiana and at Westmont Junior High, I believed two smaller pupil populations would better serve our middle school students. The end results of those two failed referenda was the passage of a referendum to build CHMS. That referendum passed without a specifically designated location for CHMS and without a specific school design. All those specifics were negotiated and worked out after the referendum passed. I was part of the BOE that purchased the homes where Prospect School sits today and, along with Mike Woerner, negotiated the land swap with the CH Park District that allowed for CHMS to be located where it is today.Therefore, your comments that I was part of and contributed to referenda that were "major debacles" and I also "created enormous animosity in the community" are, in my opinion, totally false and extremely offensive. As we have just experienced, there are usually varying perspectives in a community concerning referenda and emotions are usually involved. But, for you to indicate that I contributed to "creating enormous animosity in the community" at that time, I find this to be incorrect. With the guidelines that this blog has followed in the past, that mean-spirited, personal attacks would not be tolerated, I am surprised that the blog posted your comments. I encourage you and any one else to speak with my past BOE colleagues, Kathy Nelson, Mike Woerner, Kevin Connor and Bill Oelman, if you would like verification of what I have just stated.

Another correction to your statement. When it was indicated that the Suburban Hospital property at 55th and County Line Rd. might be for sale, Mike Woerner, as a representative of D181, investigated the possibility of D181 purchasing this property. At no time did Cook County, who owned the property, ever indicate that they would sell the property to D181. It was assumed that Cook County believed they could find a buyer with "deeper pockets" than a DuPage County school district. As we know, the property was sold to a housing developer. Your statement that D181"passed up the opportunity to purchase this property" is absolutely false.

30+ year resident said...

I also agree with Jay's last paragraph and also with 8:55 above. I voted YES because I know we need a new school and understand that renovated the current building makes no sense. I am not thrilled with the pricetag and surely don't want to add to my tax bill, but I believe it to be a great and well-thought out plan. I also would hate to see the Auditorium go away from the plan because I think it would be an invaluable asset to the community, as well as the students of D181. I grew up here with the Theater where CiNe is now and miss having a performing space close to downtown with places to grab a bite to eat or something to drink. And the Community House theater does not fit that bill. If the 5 million dollar auditorium is shaved from the plan, then there needs to be built a cafetorium - dual space for lunch and performances, etc. The cost to make the plain ole' cafeteria into a dual space adds 1.5 million (that's what I have read and heard) - so the net difference between Auditorium and No Auditorium is 3.5 million. When would there ever be another opportunity to have an auditorium downtown at that cost? I read somewhere that the auditorium cost is about $14 a resident and I think the benefits of using that space as a resident and audience member far outweighs the burden of that small extra cost.

Ann Mueller said...

Part 2:
The only reason I volunteered for the current Facilities Comm. was to provide historical D181 referenda and building information since no one in the D181 Administration had any knowledge of previous referenda and building efforts. My children have been out of D181 for decades. Though I feel strongly that volunteering in a person's community is very important, I feel I have done my part after eight years on the D181 BOE, six years on the D181 Foundation and two and a half years on the Facilities Committee, in addition to serving on referenda and interview committees. I am more than happy to have "new blood" in the D181 community step up and take on these responsibilities. However, I refuse to allow lies to be told about me and be unjustly criticized for my D181 service.

As occurred with the previous two failed referenda for renovation and addition to HMS back in the 1990's, if a new plan to address the current overcrowding, functional issues and academic inadequacy at HMS can be developed and the D181 community will support it, then I am totally in favor of it. All I wish to communicate is that the current Facilities Comm. genuinely tried their best and was only motivated by attempting to do what was best for kids.

Anonymous said...


The fiasco that is/was the HMS referendum has a lot to do with Ken Surma’s lack of experience. See my comment from last year.

http://www.hold181accountable.com/2015/02/hogwash-boe-agenda-filled-with-it-for.html?showComment=1424728033944#c5680521188280160610

To reiterate what I said before, how could the Board hire somebody without a resume and create a whole new department just to make space for him. Gary Frisch “retired” and made the announcement a mere 6 months after getting a 3-year contract. Gary Frisch by the way, almost immediately took a position as director of finance for the Village of Broadview. Now the “retired” Mr. Frisch has been hired as Finance director for Lowell School District in Massachusetts. With Mr. Frisch out of the way, Dr. White abolished the department he created for Ken Surma and allowed Ken Surma to direct finance and operations. Ken Surma has zero experience in finance. That’s why to date we have NO background info on Ken Surma. The Board was/is not doing their due diligence and somehow are enamored of Dr. White. Dr White promised, and I quote, “I look forward to providing you with more information on Mr. Surma’s background later this summer.” Where is this information? I can find John Munch’s and Dr. White’s resume, but I can’t find Surma’s resume or any info. Why? I can, with near certainty, tell you that any info on Surma would not have finance experience. Finance experience is listed as one of the job qualifications. Better keep that little fact from the Board. If I’m correct, then that says a lot about Dr. White, doesn’t it? Now, Mr. Stokes, who has some finance knowledge is leaving.

http://www.d181.org/news/item/index.aspx?LinkId=1855&ModuleId=37

Regarding tonight’s Board meeting, take a look at the five million dollar low to high priority expenditures. I don’t trust a thing about this document. The Board is way too easily duped. Time to get a parent panel and double check things on this list. Why bother putting this list in our faces right after losing the referendum?


Anonymous said...

The district has posted a board report for the board meeting tonight (http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/A89RB35FAAD3/$file/BOE%20Report%20-%20HMS%20Referendum%20Discussion%2016-03-21.pdf). It has a bunch of questions about the future of HMS. Two question on it are "Is the Board interested in re-considering a change in location for a new HMS?" and "Is the Board interested in having the HMS site appraised?"

I'm surprised by the latter question. Why is it "appraised" and not "re-appraised"? Mrs. Mueller, or anyone else on the Facilities Committee, can you explain? Was the current site never appraised in the first place? If it wasn't, why not? Not to be rude, but appraising the current site seems like a necessity and common sense if you seriously considered alternate sites.

Also, one other question the board should answer: should we consider building two smaller schools instead of one bigger school? I realize this adds more complexity to the issue, but I've seen some posts on this blog saying that smaller schools are better. I cannot confirm or deny whether that's true, but at least something to look into. Maybe consolidate Oak and Elm, and have each middle school serve 2 elementary schools each. Have each middle school serve around 500-550 students each.

Anonymous said...

Ann, You are wrong, there was a referendum to renovate and add onto the existing HMS bldg to make room to move the sixth grade out of the elementary schools to create a 6,7,8 Middle school. It failed 3 -1, 3 no votes to every 1 yes vote. The 181 board moved the sixth grade anyway, without the addition. The building was immediately overcrowded. Portables were brought in the next year.
The two failed referenda you referred to came after that. They were not for renovation and addition, they were to build a new school to house all 181 6,7,8 grades very similar to the building on the recent referendum. I don't recall you or any board member voting against one large school in favor of two smaller ones. It was a community group who consistently supported two smaller schools. The decision for a referendum for a second middle school came after your boards two failed referenda for one large school. It would have been for 1,250 and would have been too small today. And the second time you tried to pass the same referendum it created a great deal of unrest in the community.
And 181 had the opportunity to purchase Suburban Hospital property, Bill Oelman and Mike Woerner met with Cook County. The decision was made by the board not to purchase that property but the community was never told how much it would have cost.

Anonymous said...

I think anyone who seriously feels that Hinsdale residents, particularly those in South Hinsdale would consider moving that school off that site are kidding themselves. That would get defeated 60/40. Walk to school is something that most consider as the charm to Hinsdale.

Anonymous said...

What are you basing this on 7:30? Your statement is totally unfounded. No other locations were offered up. This question was NOT in any survey.

Anonymous said...

Listening to the meeting, why does the facilities committee have no clue as to exactly what the plan is for the roof? I mean it is ridiculous. I would fire an employee if we had board meeting to discuss this subject and they came in and said " uh, uh well I can get that information." I mean what the hell do these people think they were going to discuss tonite. This entire board needs be recalled. It is infuriating how ill prepared and naive they are.

Anonymous said...

Please, 7:30. How many students from ELM, Madison or The Lane walk to HMS? Who seriously lets their 11- 13 year olds, especially girls, walk over 5 blocks to a downtown area in the winter? Hardly anyone. I know people who live south of the tracks who live only 4 blocks from HMS who never let their kids walk - even during the couple decent weather months of September or May. A charming location for a middle school is not what the majority of voters care about. People care about the educational quality of the schools, and the safety of their students. If it is between no new million school at HMS, or, a brand new school on another property that costs significantly less than $65 million, voters will chose an alternate location.

If people want a new school to be built, they are going to have to understand that the community does not want to build a school that costs TWICE as much as the average middle school being built in the country. As mentioned, most voters in this community do not even have kids in school. Most are paying for their kids college educations. What does the committee not understand about people wanting their public school to cost what every one else's public schools cost? John Clopton said it perfectly. If the average cost is $180/sq. foot, why on earth would anyone in their right mind willingly pay $400/sq. ft!? If the YES HMS group wants to personally fund the difference between an average cost and an overbid "Hinsdale cost", they can pay for it themselves. Also, Rich Glitter's comments at the meeting tonight make complete sense. You need to look at the population of voters, listen to why people voted against it, and meet everyone's needs.

If the YES folks do not want to compromise on the price, then a new HMS will never be built. Stubbornness and inflexibility form the HMS Yes crowd is only hurting our children's chance for a functional, safe, reasonably priced school.

Anonymous said...

8:35 Anyone who thinks 180 per sq ft is attainable is kidding themselves. A reasonable number for Chicago/Northern Cook County is $ 280 to $ 320 and that is aggressive. Please see the available data from Mean's and from other sources that compile public building construction. The main driver is going to be labor and the prevailing wage is the prevailing wage. Pepper built in quite a bit of fudge into this because the reality is, labor is going to lick their chops on a project in Hinsdale. Is what it is.

Jill Quinones said...

Don't know his educational background, but before Director of Operations in Troy (a position that is no longer there - it's now called Finance and Operations) Mr. Surma was an Assistant Middle School Principal and then Interim Director of Transportation - both in Troy. He has had a teaching certificate since at least 2005 according to the public Illinois teacher licensing website. He earned a General Admin endorsement from Loyola in 2005 and Chief school Business Official endorsement from NIU in 2012. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, not the right background experience for the job he was hired to do.......

Anonymous said...

8:54 - What is a reasonable number for DuPage County where HMS is located? Everything labor-related in Cook County is overpriced!

Anonymous said...

If Cook County contractors are too pricey, then move on and find another builder from out of town or out of state who will build it for $280/sq. ft. Furthermore, why wasn't our Facilities Committee capable of negotiating an "aggressive" rate in the first place? Finally, if labor is what is driving up the cost, the we are going to need to save costs elsewhere. That means sell the valuable land in Downtown Hinsdale and buy cheaper land somewhere else. Or, look for another solution.

By the way, who is the person speaking from Elm who thinks that she is a roofing expert? We need data and facts from experts, not "passion" from uninformed activists. We need a lower costs.

Anonymous said...

I do find it amazing that they came to this meeting and the HMS personnel were completely unequipped to discuss the present status of the roof or exactly the plan that was to be instituted if this referendum failed. Regardless of if you were a no vote, yes vote or did not vote, this fact is enraging. If the roof is leaking, then it needs to be fixed and it needs to have a plan to have it fixed. This plan should have been developed last year.

I was caught completely off guard when they started asking all kinds of questions that they had no answers for.

Ann Mueller - what the hell is going on with the facilities committee. This is exactly the type of stuff that cannot happen. You gave multiple posts on this very website that led me and others to believe they knew exactly what they needed to do. Well, you know what, somebody has been lying because the way they answered those questions, they haven't a clue. Who hell does maintenance around there? What exactly do they do, just put out a bucket? This is why public service employees get a bad name, they show no initiative.

Anonymous said...


SOURCE #1:

July 1st, 2015
School districts in the United States spent more than $14 billion ($14,123,865,000) on construction projects completed during the 2014 calendar year. Almost $7.8 billion of that was spent on new schools, accounting for 55 percent of the construction dollars.

The balance was split between additions to existing buildings (accounting for $3.2 billion) and the retrofitting and modernization of existing structures that accounted for $3.14 billion. The difference of spending for new buildings and existing ones was very close to the pattern of the previous year.Looked at in terms of on-going educational construction, school districts in the United States appear to be involved in almost $40 billion worth of construction activity right now, and that is probably a low-ball estimate.

In 2014, the median elementary school in the United States cost $211.55 per square foot to build. Median spending was $43,693 per pupil and the median elementary school provided 188 square feet for each student. The median elementary school reported was designed for 624 students and encompasses 84,700 square feet at a total cost of $16,269,543.

The median cost of a middle school is $242.96 per square foot. Median spending per pupil was $43,635 and the median middle school provides 173.4 square feet per student. The median number of students in middle schools built in 2014 is 612 and the building size is 118,500 square feet. The cost is $26.5 million.

The median high school cost $45 million and provided 173,727 square feet. It was designed to accommodate 1,000 students. The median high school provides 180 square feet per student at $49,000 for each student. The cost per square foot was $235.29.

Source: School Planning & Management’s 20th Annual School Construction Report

SOURCE #2:
Median New England Construction Costs:

Elementary School — $306.34/sf
Middle School — $213.33/sf
High School — $303.03/sf
Hotel (4-7 stories) — $192.81/sf
Apartment Building — $188.45/sf
Hospital — $322.98/sf
Office Building (2-4 stories) — $204.80/sf

Sources: School cost data is from School Planning & Management's 2013 annual school construction report and is the median cost for Region 1, comprising Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The other cost estimates are for the city of Boston, Mass., found online at The Commercial Real Estate Specialists' Web site (www.thecommercialrealestatespecialists.com) and based on RSMeans construction cost data.

HOW and WHY were we expected to pay $400/sq. ft?? These estimates are in line with the cost to build CHMS. Don't tell us that the cost of building has DOUBLED since CHMS was built, because it has not. Anyone who believes that has been fooled.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the following was all nonsense. This admin and board is very amatuer.

What happens if the referendum doesn't pass?

That is a critical question that the administration, Board of Education, and Board Committee members are continuing to address. The Board has the option to put the referendum question on a future ballot, but in the meantime, learning spaces and system and operational issues would need need to be addressed, such as the outdated roof (estimated at $2.33 million). As part of our Facilities Master Plan development, Wight & Company Architects completed a Facility Condition Assessment Report (FCAR), a 650-point building audit, which identified approximately $3.4 million in projects to be completed at HMS over the next ten years. (Approximately $670,000 for a roof patch would be deducted from the $3.4 million estimate if the roof were instead replaced.) An additional $51,500 is needed to complete projects identified during the most recent HMS Life Safety Survey (completed for all Illinois schools by the Regional Office of Education in ten-year cycles).

Yvonne Mayer said...

I attended last night's board meeting. It was well attended. About 60 parents were in the audience and a number of them spoke during Public comments. Parents who had voted yes and parents who voted no expressed their opinions. Board members also expressed their opinions about the failed referendum. Dr. White and the board, however, did not take the time to begin answering the list of questions he had generated for the meeting, rather the discussion was much more open ended. During closing comments I expressed my concern that if all the board does is generate a list of questions and not begin answering each them, it will not make any progress towards figuring out the right option to present to the voters in the future. One parent said that the board needs to address the leaking roof at Hinsdale middle school now and another parent advised the board that a student had slipped and fallen on water in the gym from a leak. The first parent said it is imperative that safety issues be addressed immediately. What was particularly disappointing to me was that when asked questions about the roof, the assistant superintendent of operations and business was unable to answer any of them on the spot. Considering the salary he earns, he should have come prepared because the leaking roof was raised at the board meeting the night before the referendum and he should have anticipated these questions. Hopefully the board will authorize the needed repair or replacement of the roof before another student falls and is potentially injured. Everyone should listen to the meeting tape and continue expressing their positions to the board via emails or attending future board meetings. And most importantly, as some of the board members and a couple of the community members said, people need to work constructively together and not be divisive.

Anonymous said...

Does the Superintendent of the Regional Office of Education in Wheaton know that while our roof was leaking and kids falling, that our administration has been ignoring this problem? This is terrible. I suggest that the parent who spoke of this last night immediately write a letter to the ROE to inform them about this.

Anonymous said...

Having listened to the webcast live, I too was shocked that the asst superintendent of operations and business was completely unable to answer questions. It was almost beyond what would be believable considering the amount of urgency the District has placed on this roof and repairs. Mrs Mueller, I sure hope somebody speaks with both Dr. White and this individual, letting him know that he has and is continuing to do a complete disservice to the community when he shows up as ill prepared as he appeared to be. I still cannot believe with all the urgency placed on this roof and the issues surrounding it that they don't know exactly what the plan is and how to execute it. To me it indicates either a serious lack of initiative on the operational personel perspective or it is a general reflection of the mood of the staff as it pertains to the wishes of the public and their jobs. Its almost appears that they treat this as a se la vie type moment. Attending to the maintenance of the building is their job 1 and it is appears they don't take it very serious. I am still very angry over the lack of ownership these people take in their jobs. And they wonder why the public is so jaded on public sector employees. Fix the damn roof, that is critical path no. 1 in red.

On other stuff, does it seem like all these people do is talk about data driven decisions? I mean really, if you truly feel you need a new school, fine. I don't need a poll to know that if they get the wants out of this thing, and opt for their needs, that they will get more votes. People in this town easily will fund an auditorium for the performing arts etc privately. What is so hard to understand that people are more than willing to spend money on something that educates their child but are less willing to spend it to educate mine? Is that so hard to get. I will gladly help you get what you need or as a taxpayer fulfill my civic duty to give you what you need but I have no intention of spending my money on your wants. Does anyone need a poll to understand that. Get rid of the elevated track and the auditorium (hell, leave the design in but not the cost to build) and pare back on some of the fit and finish and you will have your school. In the meantime, get the roof fully repaired. Its just the cost of doing business. Does this mean that potentially moving this place, etc aren't good ideas, no, it just means if you are going to come this far with this effort, you need to see it thru. What a waste of human capital this endeavor has been. This group is so wishy washy that it is no wonder they wallow. I am still shocked that they came to the meeting ill prepared to tell the public exactly how that room and envelope were going to be addressed. Oh, and for a school that seems to have bantered on about mold and air quality, especially one that has had an issue, to not have quaterly air quality assessments done to insure that things are good is abhorrent. Either it is an issue or it isn't. They make pretty much everything they have stated on this subject seem as if it has been conjecture from day 1. In the private sector pretty much every person I heard last night would be rated off track and advised this isn't the right career choice.

Anonymous said...

I listened to last night's podcast and agree with parents who asked "what about the kids who currently attend HMS?" With the failure of the referendum, it is now uncertain when and if a new building will ever be approved. What is certain is that the kids in the existing building deserve a safe environment. Leaks that cause hazards -- we heard a parent say during comment that at least one student has fallen on a puddle caused by a leak -- need to be fixed. If the roof cannot be fixed, it should be replaced. Other things that were identified were putting stair rails on some of the staircases. I'm not sure what that's about, but if kids have fallen and putting a rail on would make them safe, then why hasn't that happened already? Finally, I learned for the first time that there isn't a single bathroom in the part of the building that houses the 8 portable classrooms and that the closest bathroom is really far away from those classes. That also needs to be addressed right away. I also agree with Mr. Bousquette who said parents of kids in the building need to be notified of the actual physical problems that are ongoing. I hope the facilities committee immediately starts prioritizing these needs ahead of the wants they hope happen down the road. While a new school would be great, everyone has lost sight of the kids that will be attending school at HMS over the next three years. Priorities need to be flipped to now address the immediate needs, not the long term needs.

Anonymous said...

My impression from that meeting last evening was the BOE and the facilities committee has not treated the issues at the school with the proper urgency or professionalism. Trying to get a referendum is not a real plan, thats a big picture low probability plan. Any building wouldn't be ready for years.

The issue of the leaks and children slipping, the issue with not knowing the air quality or having any in place protocol and the complete lack of a plan on the roof repair kind of makes the BOE and the facilities committee appear out of their league. It is almost as if all the issues the BOE/facilities committee speak about are only a means to an end in trying to justify a new school. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of that, so they need a plan and that plan needs to be instituted right now. It's as if they are afraid to take any definitive action for fear of weakening their hand in trying to justify a new school. It's crazy playing politics with the safety of the kids. Actually, it is negligent.

Surprised we have not heard from Ms. Mueller on any of this post the meeting.

Anonymous said...

Tonight's Facilities Committee Meeting -like all of its meetings- is open to the public. Please start volunteering your time. Meeting starts at 4 pm at district office.

Anonymous said...

10:29: it is negligent but it is negligent of the administration. They run this district. They are running the show. They are supposed to report things to the boe and committee. Nothing about the roof was ever reported to the boe until a community member asked at the meeting last month. Then Jennifer burns asked dr white. Also the boe has asked many times over the past year for the admin to look into the short list of projects for HMS . Look at the organization chart. There are many highly paid people whose job it is to work on facilities. They are to blame. They are supposed to report things to the volunteers on the facility committee and boe. They also we supposed to fix things like leaking roofs.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I believe it is negligent on both the admin and the BOE/facilities committee. My recollection is that the admin/maintenance dept did recommend performing a much more involved repair of this roof right as this new board was being seated (actually it may have been as the previous one was exiting). At that time, my recollection was that the board opted to perform a minor repair and try and kick this down the road until they could get this referendum passed. The problem is, mother nature and wear and tear do not take any time off, they just keep ticking along. Unfortunately, it appears that some on the facilities committee, the BOE and the admin aren't ticking right along with it and they must. The new school is not going to happen anytime soon but the attention to the known knowns cannot waver. Coming to a meeting with no plan on how to address the existing roof is ridiculous. They have told the community as much in their published correspondence on the subject and that all appears to be fictional. Not fictional in the sense that something mustn't be done, but fictional in that they don't know what needs to be done or aren't totally prepared to do it. That IMO is negligent. It's fine to posture for a new school and feel that you are throwing good money after bad but sometimes that is exactly what you need to do. I fear that this admin really does not have the leadership to make hard unpopular but decisions. In this case, the correct decision is to fix the roof but they appear to know once this is done they weaken their hand in trying to get the referendum passed. That is sad and poor leadership. Sometimes you have to do things you don't like because they are right. BTW, maybe they can take a poll and see if by using group think they can come up with the right answer.

HMS Parent said...

I sort of agree with 8:23, except that I don't think the current BOE should be blamed. I think the blame for allowing HMS to deteriorate and not do short term fixes, even if a long term plan was in the works, lies squarely with the administration and more specifically, with Dr. White and Mr. Surma. They run the district and the department directly responsible for maintaining the buildings. When you have administrators who cannot answer basic questions at a BOE meeting about the leaks, repairs and expenses to date to address the leaks you have a problem. These administrators should have anticipated that these questions would be asked at the first meeting after the failed referendum and come prepared with answers. Lack of leadership runs rampant in the central office. It has for years in the curriculum dept. and now it looks like the same problem exists in the Operations and Business dept.

I'd like to know if the facilities committee was ever told about the ongoing leak issue as they decided what to recommend to the BOE? I'll be listening to the podcast of today's facilities meeting after it is posted and hope to hear the leak issue discussed.

3:48 has raised some real concerns about the qualifications of yet another administrator. I'd really like to see Mr. Surma's resume. Can anyone confirm that nothing on his background is available on the D181 website?

Anonymous said...

The new board was seated in May. Both the roof work and Ken Surma's hire occurred the year prior.

Anonymous said...

I think it is naive to think that the roof leaks have not been happening for longer than 2 years. These problems have probably been known by the prior boards and administrations or at least fixes must have been happening without true resolution. I'm sure the teachers have been reporting it as they did the cold air in the room where the pipe broke in 2014. No one seems to want to listen to them or give them credit for raising valid issues. Prior boards should have pushed for a master facility plan or regular maintenance and discussed life expectancy of big ticket items such as roofing of our various schools and planned accordingly. This is all a result of deferred maintenance and a building that has been dysfunctional. It was a waste to dump more money into this building.

jay_wick said...

Sadly the district has a long history of many folks who should be "leaders" instead attempting to wash their hands of pressing issues. Whether it is professional staff who exhibit more skills in the clerical duties that could be called 'oversight' being tasked with determining the expertise of potential contractors or elected officials who attempt to push the boundaries between "liaison" and "micro managing", the record of failures for the facilities issues in the district is lengthy.

Rather than rehash every less than successful step of previous BOEs (that includes the olfactory disasters associated with the now lauded CHMS...) just let it be said that outside experts have been required to offer solutions for other's mistakes for decades. The curious relationship that such experts have in profiting from such failures is no doubt a huge factor in the costly way government units impose upon the taxpayers of Illinois. To be sure such missteps are not unique to our school district, one need only look at the badly underestimated scope of things like the chlorination facility in Veeck Park for Flagg Creek What is an excess flow storage and treatment facility? |Illinois EPA or the numerous instances where a freshly re-paved road was unceremoniously torn up for badly scheduled underground utility work. The difference is that such things simply do not evoke the same kind of feelings as the thought of a child in a facility with less than perfect environmental conditions. I might also ask that those who are so sure that a new building will solve any such issues to kindly review the situation that long time residents might remember afflicting the costly and 'state-of-the-art' DuPage County Courthouse, that itself was ironically the both setting and subject for historic litigation in the "sick building" realm -- Jury Blames Dupage For `Sick' Courthouse |Chicago Tribune

How then should things proceed? Well, despite the fact that many attorneys live in our community, I think most of them would agree litigation is not the preferred method of resolving such disputes. Neither is it wise to vilify or demonize either the paid staff or elected officials who truly are doing their best to ensure the safety of students. No doubt the anger and blame many have expressed is merely the reflection of how important these admittedly emotionally issues are to parents. The challenge is to look with equal measures of logic and skepticism at both prior failures AND promises , using such knowledge to rationally come up with a better solution to both the most pressing short term issues as well as a consistent plan to serve the longer term needs of the whole community.

Anonymous said...

It may be a waste but it has to be done because there will be no resolution of this referendum for a year or more. They have to fix it and push on in parallel with their bigger aim of replacing it. What is going to get them in trouble is the appearance that they are not fixing it because it may weaken their hand at replacing the building. That is negligence.

Yvonne Mayer said...

I just tried listening to the Facilities Committee meeting held last night (Wednesday). The podcast cuts off after 18 seconds. This is the second time in three meetings that the podcast hasn't recorded properly. I certainly hope the Administration is able to retrieve the full tape and post it because the community has a right to hear what was discussed during the meeting!

jay_wick said...

I had some free time and I did attend the facilities committee meeting. Given the long list of items that was generated in this week's special BOE meeting things went fairly smoothly and the meeting wrapped up around 6PM.

It is clear that there are differences of opinion around the perceptions surrounding the current concept for HMS / potential "lightning rod" features. Some facilities committee members very strongly believe that sticking with the current architect could doom any future attempts at winning broad support. Similarly, there are strong opinions about what truly might motivate folks to support a replacement for HMS.

There seems to be a lack of understanding of what steps might satisfy community members concerned with things like mold and general indoor air quality -- the leaks that have been publicized directly over the 3rd floor gym are unlike the longer term hidden leaks and improper maintenance that were uncovered during clean-up of the catastrophic water intrusion caused by frozen fire sprinklers; these present leaks are largely from the failing flat roof and since they are quickly addressed are unlikely to contribute to the growth of mold. Even mold that was uncovered while extensive interior refurbishment was undertaken was largely not of the airborne varieties, but was sent to testing labs after surface swab tests to determine the best remediation efforts. HMS' staff has noted no soaked ceiling tiles and the efforts to have non-absorbent baseboards and made water wicking up walls far less likely. That said, the district staff will undertake scheduling air quality testing both while the building is vacant over spring break as well as scheduling additional tests in a variety of classrooms while they fully occupied. Results of these tests will be published on the district web site. Concerns about any possible issues related to water quality were deemed largely to result from hypersensitivity related to media coverage of events in Michigan.

The consensus was generally toward getting solutions ASAP to ensure all students and staff have the safest environment possible for the minimum of three years that the existing schools will be in use, and hopefully this will restore confidence in the district's efforts at responding to such concerns.

There was similar consensus that the initial estimates and subsequent increases in total "all in" cost were a factor in the defeat of the proposal. How best to communicate that efforts were undertaken to ensure that cost per square foot of the project is inline with similar efforts, on what is essentially a complex semi-urban site vs the more common "green field" sites selected for middle schools, was also discussed.

Additional analysis of voting trends will be made when precinct level details are available. The assistance of survey firms may also be called upon.

The district staff was generally aware of how challenging the timing might be for a November ballot question, as well as problems with timing a question that either interferes with ballot questions from other districts or potential School Board elections.

Anonymous said...

Jay, Thanks for the info. Will be interesting to see how they market this cost per sq ft premium of the downtown Hinsdale site. I suspect it will only embolden the "lets find another site" vs the "neighborhood school" argument. Hopefully, they are fully prepared to put that to bed by having researched some "out of the box" thinking. I just don't see this group capable of that. Looking at Google Maps, the only site to me that looks like a possible alt location in town would be Robbins Park - make a sort of park district, Community House, Madison School / HMS campus (analogous to CHMS/Prospect/park district). The district could then trade its land with that of the Park District. I know some want to sell that downtown hinsdale land but I just don't see that ever passing a referendum as mixed use housing so maybe a park is a nice alternative. I could envision the downtown area getting a nice revenue boost during game days when all those soccer matches, etc could be very close to downtown. Just a thought, sure this has come up many times in the past.

jay_wick said...

Curiously there was some talk at the facilities committee about other sites that had been considered. Robbins Park was mentioned as a complete "no go" given the overall intensity of uses of the park would be negatively impacted by any construction, concerns with traffic / parking, and other such neighbor driven issues.

I rather doubt that Hinsdale Village Trustees, who because the town lacks a separately elected Park District both control Hinsdale's parks as well as have authority over zoning / land development, would accept even "improved" open space at the existing HMS site in exchange for true park space at Robbins Park. The Trustees would likely be pressured to support development of residential and/or retail space on the vacated HMS site to both make the downtown "more vibrant" and improve the local sales tax revenue potential, limited though such funding truly may be...

At the recent BOE meeting I did mention the relatively "unintensive" use of the sites adjacent to Grant Square -- the yoga studio there certainly is no more costly than most single family homes in our communities, and the modest office building should easily be less costly than the appraised value of the current HMS site. In my view the "historical society" building (which was moved to the site from a location on Lincoln years ago) and the surrounding landscaped areas of Eleanor's Park would complement a community use like a school, with the Italianate house perhaps serving as contrast to modern (and far less costly / easier to build) HMS replacement done in a more utilitarian style. The massive parking capacity of Grant Square and the medical offices to the west should mesh well with off-hours needs. No doubt such a site would make for a less hectic construction scene, and ultimately middle schoolers would be still be able to hang-out in downtown Hinsdale, which is probably something that drives parent concerns. The naysayers will of course counter with trumped-up concerns of the proximity to the railroad and negatives associated with land purchase / swap. That sort of thing is really why some folks have so little belief that any solution will ever move forward...

I might add that there were no legions of professional architects / real estate experts present at the facilities committee meeting, as has been the implied case at prior meetings. Perhaps that is because no pressing action was expected. In the absence of such folks, things like questions about the appraised value of the existing HMS were handled by volunteers who tried to recall when such things were last produced. Not it is bad solution to rely on volunteers, but perhaps a different than that painted of how diligent the 'vetting process' may truly be at any such meetings.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Robbins Park was a complete no go. I could really envision a major upgrade to the Hinsdale park system by moving the school there. I know they like the wide open space but they would be trading that for a much more (IMO) appealing space in the center of the community. Even though trustees seem to get pressure for mixed use/residential/retail space on the HMS site, I just cannot see that ever passing as much as some clamor for it. What they want, they pretty much can't have, and that is an inexpensive housing stock in downtown. The Village will have a harder time agreeing on that than they would a school. The retail space is another thing they seemingly want but the Village cannot support it. Hinsdale is a bedroom community. This is not a case of build it, and they will come. The Village has a mall to the North that houses the trendy upscale stores that some seem to envision being in downtown Hinsdale. I think the development on First Street should be a wakeup call to the Village. It remains empty 12 months after completion. Why? Because people do not come to Hinsdale to shop and they never will. No anchor stores will survive here. Going to take some vision by the BOE and the Village Trustees if they want to move this off that site. Because of this, I suspect round 2 will start shortly.