Tuesday, March 15, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Unofficial Results -- The HMS Referendum Fails.

With all precincts reporting as of 11:30 pm., 9878 D181voters have spoken* and the democratic decision was NO to issuing up to $65 million in bonds to build a new Hinsdale Middle School.

We are going to let these unofficial results speak for themselves, and will update later with the official results (which will include absentee ballot totals), but we want to highlight 3 things:

1.  Voter turnout in this election was huge.  43.9% of registered voters in Cook County voted.  55.3% of registered voters in DuPage County voted.  Over both counties, 51.9% of the 18,389 registered voters cast a ballot.*

2.  Total votes in both Cook County and Dupage County:  5352 NO, 4199 YES.*  

3.  Overall,  56% of voters voted NO.  44% voted YES.*


Below are the results by county.

Cook County:  

(Source:  http://electionnight.cookcountyclerk.com)


Dupage County:

(Source:  http://electionresults.dupageco.org)

As always, SOUND OFF!


__________________________________

*  These unofficial results do NOT include late absentee ballots which have not yet been tabulated.




77 comments:

Anonymous said...

If the district wants to try to build a new school again, I've come up with a list of things to decide BEFORE even going to an architecture firm:

-Renovate the current school or build new?

-School population size (one big school or multiple, smaller schools?)

-What kinds of classrooms do we want? This goes with curriculum. We need LA, math, PE, and possibly science. Depending on community interest, do we want foreign language, art, music, applied tech, family & consumer sciences, etc.?

-What is the appropriate class size for each subject, and what's the appropriate square footage per student? Science classrooms might need more room than an LA room due to the lab experiments (unless the district decides to do lecture-only classes)

-How many classrooms do we need?

-What kind of non-classroom spaces do we want/need?
-lunchroom
-principal offices
-main entrance
-counselors/social workers
-meeting rooms
-custodial areas
-work/copier rooms
-auditorium
-parking
-server rooms
-green space

-How many floors do we want above/below grade?

-Where do we want a new school? Current place or different? Get current site appraised, and use a realtor to scout alternate locations (Google Earth doesn't count)

-BUDGET!!!! How much are we willing to pay for a new school or renovation?

As I said, all of this should be planned BEFORE going to architecture firms. Have different options for each thing and prioritize. I thought all of this in maybe 10 minutes. I'm just surprised that the facilities committee didn't think of this. I know that several members on the facilities committee are smart people, but it's ridiculous that they didn't do their homework before looking at architecture firms.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for being off topic, but I saw on BoardDocs that the board hired new assistant superintendents (one for curriculum & instruction, the other for PPS/Special Ed). The PPS one has a doctorate, yet the C&I one doesn't seem to have one? Why not?!? I seriously hope this person isn't another placeholder person who only stays onboard until she gets a doctorate (on taxpayer dime, no less!) and then skedaddle once she gets it.

Anonymous said...

Any info about the new C & I person?

Anonymous said...

Dawn Benaitis has a PhD. You can get them online. They have been proven over and over again to be worthless in this district.

Anonymous said...

What seems to have gotten lost this past week is that the BOE discussed and posted the math directive on Monday. Why wasn't that included in the admin board summary email to parents? Also the district hired 2 huge positions on Monday but since then all the emails from white have been about the referendum.

Anonymous said...

I think post this election cycle, it will be very interesting to see how this board proceeds. The reality of the electorate and its opinion on public spending could not be any clearer. I look forward to the point after the vote YES HMS crowd gets past their disappointment. The cook county numbers I think are very informative (will be nice to see precinct by precinct numbers) because all four precincts were in the HMS boundary and the measured carried by a total of 19 votes (38/2) out of over a 1000. By no means is this a mandate and the board should see it as such.

Now, if the board has true leadership, it will move forward with its needs and deal with its other business. Namely, put a new roof on this facility and design an addition that accounts for the temporaries. While they facilities committee fights over this, they should fix the curriculum. BTW, real leaders would not act like politicians and they would make it very clear to the facilities committee, come up with a renovation that is affordable.

Can anyone think of a dumber set of instructions to the architects in light of this election than the term "Think Big." How dumb was that.

Anonymous said...

Dawn Benaitis does not have a Ph.D.; she has an Ed.D., along with everyone else in the central office. There is a big difference between the two degrees, especially when you get them from Aurora University, not a top-tier university by any means. Why the district chose to pay for these degrees, especially from a university with a reputation for being a diploma mill, I will never understand. Our standards have been lowered in every area in this district. We should not be surprised that we are getting what we are getting when we have allowed the standards to be lowered so far. I blame a lot of this on the apathy of the parents in this district. I remember when we all stood together and demanded the best for our children. I don't see that anymore. I am just glad my children are now at the high school and this will not affect my family anymore.

These lower standards by all involved are the main reason I voted no for the referendum. This is the first time since I have lived in this district I did not support a referendum for our schools. The lack of leadership, the lack of communication, and the lack of a well thought-out plan are just the beginning of what needs to be fixed around here if I will ever change my vote. Raising the standards for everyone would be a good first step to move forward.

jay_wick said...

There is not much to feel good about when the basic problem is a proposal is so rushed that almost seems designed specifically to fail. The contrast with previous efforts, that were included key points to encourage wide support is quite sharp -- the main thrust of so much of the rejected design seems to have been driven less by educational needs of the students than a desire to have a monument reflective of its prominent position in downtown Hinsdale. While I could have supported an attractive building, the thought of such a costly ediface saddling the district with unmanageable levels of debt loomed large in my decision to reject this proposal.

The immediate need is to determine if there are any truly critical issues that should be addressed regarding the envelope of HMS, my gut says that despite the prominent depiction of water catching buckets no honest architect would really recommend a complete re-roof of a facility that really never suited the true educational methods that are favored in the district. That fate of HMS remains one of ultimate demolition to anyone acquainted with its absurd layout.

The longer term thrust truly ought to address the viability of D181 as an independent governmental unit when the clear direction should be toward consolidation with similar adjacent higher performing districts. Such a move cannot happen overnight and will require truly skilled concensus builders, but the benefits to all stakeholders cannot be denied: a more financial viable long term solution, greater access to top notch educational resources for kids from every ability level / need, facilities that unite rather than divide the diverse interests of the combined communities and role of prominence on the forefront of good governance instead of shame in trying to sneak a proposal in "under the wire".

Months ago I called for cooperation from the many talented former BOE members that have unique insights into what is needed to win support from all community members. I again beseech the long list of men and women that have served the district to step forward and take up a truly noble effort to move the district into a new era of responsiveness volunteerism.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 1: The HMS Referendum failed last night. I voted NO and believe the outcome was correct. However, much work needs to be done now to address the needs at HMS. Here is the "next step" I took this morning:

From: ymayer
To: boe@d181.org; dwhite@d181.org
CC: boe@hinsdale86.org; blaw@hinsdale86.org
Subject: D181 Referendum --Next Steps
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2016 11:13:57 -0500
Dear D181 Board of Education and Superintendent White:
I am writing to follow up on the public comment I made Monday night regarding Hinsdale Middle School. Now that the referendum has failed, it is imperative that you not delay in addressing the roof leaks. If the reality is that due to the sloped nature of the metallic roof, it is difficult, if not impossible, to locate the source of the leaks, then it is entirely possible that water is also running down walls and new mold growth has started throughout the building. In order to avoid a new mold infestation that can cause health issues and/or ensure a safe gym floor where students will not slip on water and sustain injury, I would urge you to promptly address the failing roof. This should have been done already, since a new building would not have been ready for a couple more years, but now that no new time frame exists for a permanent solution to HMS issues, you can no longer delay. I believe the only solution (even if a new building is approved in the future) is to replace the roof. To ignore the leaks, especially now that you have publicly acknowledged that they have existed all year -- information which was NOT known before Monday night's meeting -- could lead to negligence claims filed against D181 if a student or staff member is injured, or has any health issues that can be associated with the leaks or potential mold re-growth. I would also urge you to have the building fully inspected for any new mold sites.

Now that the referendum has failed, I would renew my request from Monday night's public comment that you not wait until April to hold a meeting to discuss next steps. It is important to fast track discussions on what will happen next, because there is a lot of work to be done to create and present a plan to the community that will responsibly address HMS issues and will be supported by a majority of the community in a future referendum. Any discussion on HMS must, in my opinion, be conducted in the broader context of the Facilities Master Plan needs identified for the other 8 schools and the future fiscal health of the district. I hope that you will quickly vet, discuss, finalize and approve the Facilities Master Plan, which should be your road map on capital projects that are needed over the next ten years.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 2:

At the same time, I would urge you to read portions of an email I have copied below. I received this from a D86 community member who has actively followed the D86 facilities discussion on their Facilities Master Plan (which has already been approved by the D86 BOE) and their plans to go to a future referendum. The email below explains parts of the current process underway in D86 and includes steps that you may want to consider taking in D181 before going to referendum again.
Finally, because we all know that D86 will be going to referendum to fund projects, and because people I have spoken to who voted NO on the D181 referendum seem to be supportive of a D86 referendum (if it is reasonable) since D86 has not gone to referendum since the late 1960's or early 1970's, it would behoove D181 to work collaboratively with that district to see if a joint plan could be developed that will find broad support by our joint taxpayers. I would respectfully suggest that you consider forming a JOINT resident committee to work with BOTH districts' facilities committees to try and find common ground and work towards success of both referenda, rather than pit one district against another. I would be willing to participate in such a committee, if one if organized by one or both BOE's. (In that regard, I am copying the D86 BOE and Superintendent) on this email.
Respectfully submitted,
Yvonne Mayer
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2016 19:11:37 -0400

From:
To:
Subject: district 86--yesterday's Facilities meeting--referendum discussion--items of possible concern
hi all,
Last night I attended the Facilities Committee meeting....
The meeting began with two presentations, each by a representative of a "community engagement firm" that (according to current plan) will be paid to survey community opinion, help craft a referendum question, and guide the referendum to passage. These were the only two firms that responded to the district invitation.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 3:

The first presenter was Rod Wright of Unicom-ARC. However, at least for now, I will focus my summary and comment on the presentation by Paul Hanley, the speaker from the George Baum firm. The board members preferred his presentation and were leaning toward accepting him.
Only Rod Wright of Unicom had any data to put up on the screen. Paul Hanley gave the board members a paper handout but none to the audience, so I wasn't able to catch everything he had to say.
The George Baum firm worked on the recent successful referendum at New Trier. Both firms claim over 80% success--as long as the question is researched and approved by the firm, and their directions are followed.
Both speakers talked about the necessity of a scientific survey at the start of the process to find out what construction and at what amount will be acceptable to the public. Scientific surveys must be done by telephone. Both agreed on the necessity of involving the taxpayers in every stage of the process. The campaign should not be top-down, but involve all the stakeholders.
Paul Hanley of George Baum was the one to opine on the possible date for a referendum. He says it's a mistake to think that off-peak elections dates, with low turnout, are the best for a school question. He says (claiming to cite research) that low turnout elections attract "fiscally conservative senior citizens" who are generally "no" voters. These people are the ones who vote in every election. He prefers high turnout elections for a referendum question.
He went further. He said that November 2016 is the best date in history for a school referendum. In his view, that's because younger, more liberal Hilary supporters will be out in force, and they are natural referendum supporters.
Hanley went on to explain their method of passing a referendum. The first three phases of preparation must be paid for. The fourth is pro bono because they want to win. I didn't get the handout so I can't summarize the four phases, but they roughly consist of research, planning, community engagement, and campaigning.
He said it would be the job of the community to raise $30,000 for signs and other campaign expenses.
He noted the presence of "lightning rods" in our Master Facilities Plan, especially the pool, which he finds to be always a difficult sell. First, he said, you need a scientific poll to see what the voters will accept.
I did not see the fee to be charged by either firm. They were visible to the board, but not to the public.
Claudia Manley advised, quite rightly, that the referendum must be perceived to have something for both high schools, or it will fail. Hanley agreed. She asked about the current feeder district referendum, which may need to be repeated. Hanley allowed that this was a concern, and said its impact must be investigated via the scientific poll.
Asked what we should do now, he said "come up with a Plan A to poll on." As noted above, the first step is a scientific poll to find out what the community will and won't accept.
The board as a whole postponed deciding on what items to include in the referendum.

Anonymous said...

Certainly something to be learned from the above, even if it was obvious to everyone other than the yeshms crowd. There has to be something in it for everyone. Fair? Fair means nothing. You want people to pay an additional 5% on there taxes they should see direct benefit. The demographics of the district will not support large public expenditures even on a good day so if a district is going to be successful, the plan needs to be professionally thought out. D181 BOE proved not up to the task. Now fix the roof and come back with a better plan. Take auditorium out and privately fund that. Lots of other lightening rods as well. I think the precinct numbers will be very enlightening for all. The referendum did not carry because those who don't have kids in school more probably than this populist impression that it was Monroe or Clarendon Hills. As other poster noted, it carried the woodlands by only 19 votes.

On trying to merge the district, good luck with that. Butler and Oak Brook gain little. Westmont? Same. You think it is hard passing a referendum, try dissolving a school district. The acquired needs some serious incentive.

Anonymous said...

White should consider the failure of the referendum to be HIS PERSONAL failure. His propaganda machine and antics failed.

A true leader would have provided direction and showed respect for the values of the community. A true leader would have understood the political and financial climate in IL and recognized that the funding formulas are going to change.

Maybe it's time for the Board to find a superintendent that addresses our district's curriculum and educational issues and not one who devotes such a substantial amount of time to an overpriced, pie in the sky project.



Anonymous said...

I agree with 11.47, consolidating school districts would be a challenge. Plus, unless we decide to build K-8 schools rather than separate K-5 and 6-8 schools, there'd be even more people saying "What's in it for me?" when a school needs major renovation.

I've also been checking the Vote Yes for HMS Facebook page. Looks like they'll be forming a committee. I've seen a lot of posts on this blog saying that while voting NO, they do think HMS needs help. This may be a good opportunity to provide input. I don't know how much of a sway it'll have with the board and administration, but I hope it has something.

jay_wick said...

I have no illusion that combining D53 and D181 would be very easy, but there are undeniable benefits to both districts. Though kids in D53 are served by Hinsdale Central, their exposure to kids from outside of Oak Brook is rather limited. Giving them a new state of the art facility that would be shared by kids from Hinsdale and Burr Ridge would be huge upgrade. The range of educational / extra-curricular offerings that could be made available to kids of every ability / need would be greatly expanded. A suitable site that would give kids an uniquely enriching environment could more easily be secured with the potential for minimal expenditures resulting from the sale of the existing Butler Jr. High and HMS sites for appropriate development. I envision the combined district continuing to use Brook Forest School; it would be kind of a bookend to Elm, with one ob the southern part and the other on the northern part of the district.

Ideally a skilled concensus builder could spearhead this effort. Someone that wanted to both look out for the interests of tax payers and be on the forefront of using consolidation to improve educational outcomes could really use this a feather in their cap; they'd get statewide media attention and could capitalize on their success in a broader arena.

The low levels of debt that D53 carries would be incentive to current D181 community members to approve this, but the solid AAA bond rating of D181 along with the improvements for D53's long term viability should also be incentive to those who might be wary -- of all the neighboring district D181 is most like D53. Should proposals surface to instead see D53 be subsumed into Westmont Community Unit district as a means to prop up its poorly supported schools or even Elmhurst Community Unit district the relative differences in performance would be glaring.

The person spearheading this would have to be comfortable talking to community leaders in the whole area, that includes the many executives that live in the area, the various elected officials, represented of the ISBE and regional superintendent's office. The potential for that lead person to really build a network of thought leaders ought to be very attractive to some kinds of people...

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate all of your dedication to our district, Jay Wick, but there is no way if I were D53 that I would merge with D181. D53 has their curriculum figured out and our situation unfortunately is a red hot mess.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea of consolidation is excellent. I agree that our district is a red hot mess, that is exactly why everyone in our district should be pushing for consolidation with Butler 53, not arguing against it. I think it is very important to keep our options option and explore all avenues - regardless of what our personal feelings are. If no one asks them, or explains the benefits, they definitely will not consolidate. But if we do our homework, explain the cost benefits of sharing a new building, and describe the social benefits of Butler Students attending middle school with children who will be their classmates at Hinsdale Central Remember, there is a chance that they will agree. Oak Brook 53 lost a major referendum a few years ago, and many parents there are very disappointed that they were not able to build a new school.

Ours is the closet school district that not only most resembles their population, but also, that feeds in to the same high school as us. We are neighbors with Oak Brook, and some of us even live there and go to Monroe School. If their residents are allowed to attend Hinsdale's High School, then they should allow our kids to attend their middle school. School consolidation in Illinois is coming whether Oak Brook likes it or not. They can either choose it on their own terms with another highly achieving district like us, or, wait for the state to assign them to Elmhurst or Salt Creek. Given the option, District 181 is preferable and far more logical.

Has 3:05 ever spoken to anyone who lives in Oak Brook 53? I have spoken to both young parents and seniors and feel there would be support. I think most people in Oak Brook 53 would want Hinsdale, South Oak Brook, Burr Ridge, and Clarendon Hills residents to SHARE the financial burden of building a new middle school and lighten the load of paying for redundant administrators. I think that someone simply saying that there is "no way" 53 would merge with is is an unfounded statement that really harms both communities.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 3:05, you've got that right about the curriculum being a hot mess. Let us pray that the person the board just hired has the experience and skills to fix this mess.
Now that the failed referendum is behind us, let's pause and consider who we have running our district. This is just a partial list of failures under Don White and current Board of Education:
1. One massive, poorly contrived and iill-managed referendum attempt that showed little to no leadsership or direction.
2. Ridiculously poor judgment by White in turning over the personal information of district family members to the pro-referendum group.
3, Expensive glossy flyers the district created and mailed (probably approved by White) on the taxpayer dime.
4. Continued promotion (until just before the referendum vote) of the failed Learning for All plan.
5. White's promotion of Kurt Schneider to oversee the entire Dept of Learning.
6. White's hiring of former Troy pals into the administrative ranks, which have proven to be costly with little return on investment (lack of financial reports, moving budget targets, hiring and retaining of sub par staff, etc) that have now become standard practice.
7. White's disregard of the board's directives on math ability grouping (wasn't done up until recently, and continued MAP winter testing).
Before another referendum attempt is made, let's wait for the next board election in 2017. By then, White's contract will have run out.
We have wasted enough time.

Anonymous said...

On the vote yes HMS Facebook page, under the "who is up for round 2" , various posters are plotting to inundate chms with open enrollment so that Monroe and CHMS feel the pressure to vote yes. My first response is that they should look to the cook county results. That's their home turf. They only won by a literal handful of votes - lots of no votes there. This shows that there is strong opposition with older families and private school families. They should appeal to that group and find out their objections instead of plotting retribution. Another poster said that they only needed 500 more yes votes to win and that they could of done that with 5 more weeks. The reality is that they LOST by almost 1200 votes. Over 5300 said no. That is a lot of no votes. Our goal is not to win by one vote, but instead our goal should be to come up with a solution that a large portion of the community can support and feel good about. Some other posters are talking about a lottery. The moderators are negligent here because they know Dr White has said that is not legally possible. My advice - instead of plotting retribution and no vote shamming, figure out what a large portion of the community objected to (hello - price) and work collaboratively with the no vote people to come up with a better solution. Part of that collaborative effort should involve not deleting posts with counter view points, as the Facebook page moderators are currently doing.

Anonymous said...

I just looked at the Personnel Consent Agenda from Monday's meeting. Looks like 15 superstar teachers have put in their notice to retire pursuant to Article 8.1 of the the 2014-2016 HCHTA Contract. It will be a HUGE loss for the district to lose this many qualified teachers over the next four years. The Consent Agenda doesn't indicate when they will retire, but they typically put in their notice 4 years ahead, to take full advantage of the contract provision which allows them to have 6% salary increases for each of the next four years.

Parents of young or incoming students, should remain vigilant to the qualifications of the teachers that will be hired to replace them. More importantly, you all need to be vigilant to the opportunity for the Administration to recommend cutting teacher levels in 4 years by as many as 15 teachers, if the district's financial health has declined. So keep a careful eye on teacher levels. By not filling openings as retirements occur, teacher levels may decline without the community being fully aware it is happening......

The Parents said...

Wow! We can't believe all 15 of the following teachers will be retiring within 4 years:

Kelly Awick, Prospect
Carol Dronzek, CHMS
Victoria Johnston, HMS
Beth Kunesh, Madison
Sherri Lee, Walker
Margaret Malsack, Prospect
JoAnne Matichak, Walker
Louise Perkowski, Walker
Brenda Sanders, Elm
Gregory Schram, HMS
Linda Tetreault, HMS
Susan Tiemstra, Prospect
Joanne Trumbull, Madison
Donna Vorreyer, HMS
Jennifer Wilton, CHMS

These veteran teachers are our children's HEROES! They have been true rock stars and when they leave, they will leave gaps in the teacher work force in D181 that will not be easily filled. We will miss them, but thankfully, they will still be here for a few more years. We thank them for their service!

Anonymous said...

Yes, 3:05pm has spoken to people with school-aged children who live in Oak Brook. My children have a number of after-school activities (dance, basketball, etc.) with children attending D53 schools. They are pretty happy with the education their children are getting and shake their heads in disbelief at what has been going on around here with the curriculum mess. And they are receiving that education without the extremely high property taxes that we pay.

Anonymous said...

6:24, may I remind you that one reason Oak Brook has lower property taxes is because they have a mall that brings in massive amounts of sales tax and we don't? I realize that many of us go there and spend our hard earned money, and some people say we should earn that sales tax back. Unfortunately, people in Oak Brook would be idiots if they wanted to consolidate with us. That would only increase their taxes.

Maybe we should lobby our legislators to eliminate public education. 91% of our property taxes go to District 181, and for some of us, that's more than the cost of tuition to a private school in the area. If we eliminate public education, we could start paying less than 10% of what we pay now, pay less to send our kids to school and probably get a better education. Also, once our kids are out of school, we'd no longer have to spend a high amount of taxes for services we don't get. Plus, with people like Rauner and Radogno at the state level, I'm sure this will have some traction.

Anonymous said...

Why are you supporting Oak Brook's children instead of ours? Don't you want that education for your own children? Our children deserve the same opportunities, curriculum, and practices that our neighbor's kids get, especially when we in D181 pay our school district MORE in taxes than they do. We shop and work in Oak Brook. Their access to Hinsdale's High School is the only reason that their property is valuable. Since they have so much money, why don't they build their own high school, because ours is clearly over crowded and aging. For the good of BOTH District 181 and Oak Brook, Oak Brook 53's administrators need to take over D181. We should all be willing to give a substantial raise to Butler's superintendent to take us on. This makes sense, because when we get rid of White and his team, we will have much more money left over. I find is shocking that people who supposedly support our community and schools feel that the situation is fair or logical.

The quality of 53 would not suffer because D181 would begin to do everything the way 53 does it. Remember, their schools work. Their parents are happy. Our parents are not and our school's scores and survey results prove it. Look at the 5E surveys. Our administration does not deserve another chance to ruin our kid's educations again or waste our time and money on grand plans for an extravagant new school. They should have fixed the curriculum first.

Oak Brook 53 are the ones getting good results, we are not. If they took us over, the quality of their district would not falter. Remember, parents in 181 do not like what our administration has done to our kids. Look at the results of teacher and parent surveys to confirm this. Teachers in our district are protected by consolidation and might even receive raises. D181 would gain a substantial amount of our property taxes, which we would all be willing to pay if the quality of our own children's educations were to improve. Why should we continue to pay for administrators who do not know what they are doing? It is bad enough that we are paying $150,000 in rent every year to house our feeble administrators, but to continue paying their salaries too is even worse.

Oak Brook 53 needs to continue to send their kids to Hinsdale Central. They do not have any better options for high school. It simply isn't fair for Oak Brook to continue to send their own village's kids to Monroe School and CHMS when CHMS and HMS are both overcrowded. Buter Middle school only has 160 children! Our middle schools have about 800 kids each. Monroe has 3 times as many students than Butler Middle school. The Lane has more students than Butler 53's entire district. Those spots at CHMS should be available for children whose parents whose parents have been paying taxes in D181 forever. I understand that the Oak Brook residents whose children go to D181 pay taxes to us too, but why? We are overcrowded, they are not! The boundary lines need to be changed by the ROE and both villages so that our community can begin to receive the same benefits that D53 has been receiving for far too long. At the very least, give the Oak Brook 181 families the option to send their kids to Bulter as a means to address overcrowding in both of our middle schools.

S.O.S.
Save Our Schools

Anonymous said...

While I do not agree with eliminating public education, I do agree that D181 is taking FAR too much of our property taxes. I do not think that eliminating public education in Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills would ever be supported, nor would I want it to be. There is no guarantee that private schools would be any better. That being said, something is very wrong with the way that D181 runs itself. For a district with that much money, it is unbelievable that our middle schools are overcrowded or ever had mold in them.

If our administration showed more financial restraint in their spending and the MAJORITY of our BOE did not allow these administrators to continue to squander our money on $50,000 computer consultants, overpaid teachers, $200,000 in ridiculous architectural plans, furniture and iPads, while continuing to ignore current, necessary facility (roofing?) repairs, our taxes would not be so high. I cannot believe we are spending $150,000 on rent and the new plans for a middle school did not even include an area for administration! This is a perfect example of waste.

Anonymous said...

8:36, honest question: why would Oak Brook want to consolidate with us? Sure, we could send some kids to their schools. Their mall's sales tax could help lower our property taxes. But what's in it for them? We'll make their schools more crowded. They'll have to help foot the bill if we ever decide to rebuild any of our schools. I'm not trying to take Oak Brook's side. I'm just saying it seems like they'll get the short end of the stick if we consolidate.

8:56, the thing with going to private schools is once your kids are through, you don't have to pay for the schools anymore. With public schools, you have to pay for them for as long as you own property in that community. While the teachers in our districts would probably lose their jobs, they'll probably get hired by the private schools due to the increased demands.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain the interview process for the new asst super for curr? Who is on the interview team? Parents? Teachers?

jay_wick said...

Poster at 7:32 is completely and utterly WRONG if they believe one dime of the sales tax revenue generated in Oak Brook is supporting the educational spending of Butler D53. The truth is local sales taxes ONLY support municipal government and in Oak Brook that revenue is used for the operational costs of the Village, primarily the public safety needs of Oak Brook's large and well equipped Fire and Police Departments that respond to the retail and office calls inside the Village.

The false belief that there is some jackpot of property taxes supporting D53 is similarly mistaken, most of the retail space in Oak Brook in fact is part of Salt Creek Elementary district. The relatively modest costs of D53's educational spending is mostly due to the efficency of the staff at the two buildings the district runs and the small number of students served. More than a few elected officials in our district could learn some lessons in how to reign in the size of adminstrative staff from neighboring districts instead of rubberstamping a growing central office.

Those unaware of how school consolidation works in Illinois would do well to read up on the material provided by Illinois State Board of Education. School Consolidation Facts |ISBE The simple fact is any debts incurred by the separate districts prior to consolidation would be borne by the existing properties within the old boundaries. Given the situation of D53, those homeowners would see no negatives. The huge area covered by a new consolidated district together with the sale of the existing Butler Jr. High and HMS sites would mean a very modest cost for a new state of the art facility that would be a huge boon to the stagnant demand for housing in Oak Brook. The real reason the prior effort to build a new school in Oak Brook was rejected was not primarily cost, but opposition to the loss of greenspace at the prominent Sport Core. A site that instead capitalized on less intensively used space would also have the benefit of increasing the appeal of Oak Brook to families with kids. Even home owners that do not have kids would understand the value of supporting an ammenity that increases the appeal of the Village; many homeowners have seen stagnating values as families seek out the more well known areas served by D181 in Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills and Burr Ridge.

The 7:32 poster's tone in critizing the reform efforts of Illinois Senate Leader and Governor is badly misplaced. The real villian in Illinois current fiscal crisis is clearly the powerbroker that has failed in all efforts except feathering his nest while transfering millions in property taxes from his high rise owning clients onto the backs of regular homeowners in Chicago. Even the professional estimators from Pepper Construction clearly stated that the biggest reason for the spiraling cost of the proposed HMS replacement were the legal requirements of Illinois public construction; those mandated labor costs have risen far faster than the cost of materials or any other inflation factors.

If the 7:32 poster really wants to stand not with reform minded polticians but with a corrupt power broker who rules Illinois from his Chicago ward it is clear their interests are not in furthering the educational opportunities for children but in ensuring the connected insiders profit. That some of those insiders include retirees that make more than they did working is just one of the distorted side effects Illinois tax payers suffer under ...

Anonymous said...

9:30, we have been getting the short end of the stick for for 30 years when it comes to taxes in Hinsdale vs. Oak Brook. Not sure what your point is by asking a question of "Why could Oak Brook want to consolidate with us?" Who cares what they want. We don't want the current leadership we have in D181 but no one is concerned about our resident's opinions. Has anyone asked if Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills and Burr Ridge residents feel it is fair that Oak Brook kids get to go to our high school? Or that our schools are overcrowded yet we still accept their kids at Monroe and CHMS? Their middle school has 160 kids. That is nowhere near overcrowded or normal in any way. Butler, HMS, and CHMS should have more comparable populations specifically BECAUSE their taxes have been so low for so long. Their 1 elementary school has 322 children. Oak Brook has had a good thing going on for a long time. Now that Illinois is bankrupt, what makes anyone in Oak Brook or Hinsdale think that all of our taxes will not go up to make up for huge discrepancies like this? Our neighboring communities need to come to a compromise on this issue. If we cannot use common sense and logic to find a solution that meets the needs of both districts, then you can bet that soon, the State of Illinois will move in and find a solution that will punish, rather than reward both Hinsdale and Oak Brook.

The majority of parents in Oak Brook want a new school. Our community wants a new school, but at a reduced price. Younger parents there were crushed when the opportunity to build at their Sports Core was rejected. Let them tear down Brook Forest and rebuild it to fit their kids, and we can help finance a new middle school on the land that Butler Middle school sits on, but only if a couple hundred of our kids can attend it. This will satisfy the folks in OB who didn't want to lose their land because Brook Forest could be re-built on the same spot. Similar to how Madison and other schools in our district were forced to tear down and rebuild, Brook Forest needs to do the same if they truly are having crowding problems. Opening up Bulter Middle School to D181 kids is the easiest, fastest, least expensive way to meet everyone's needs. This will also allow Hinsdale Middle School to be rebuilt on a smaller, less expensive scale and offer 1, streamlined administration the third or 3rd floor at HMS or a new Butler so we can stop wasting rent money. Losing $1.5 million in administrative office rent money in 10 years makes no financial sense.

If D181 kids suddenly had access to Butler, and all the Monroe and Lane kids went there for middle school, both CHMS and HMS would instantly solve their population problems. Drop off, pick up, and parking problems would immediately be lessened. It makes no sense for them to turn it down because sooner or later, they will need to build a new school. If there is no more room anywhere in Hinsdale, Burr Ridge and Clarendon Hills, and building on HMS' current, problematic location is so much more expensive than building on a large, flat, school zoned property in Oak Brook on York Rd., what else are we going to do? Do you really think the retirees who squashed the new school in Oak Brook would vote AGAINST saving money by consolidating with 181? Of course not. They want to save money. I think all retirees and young families in both 53 and 181 would support a plan like this because it saves money by eliminating redundant administrators and office space, normalizes student populations, builds a sense of community with Oak Brook, and ultimately, will meet student and teacher needs.

S.O.S.

Anonymous said...

If we all went to private schools, the cost of private schools would go up. That is why private schools in the city are so much more expensive than private schools out here. The state would still collect the same amount of taxes, they would just find different ways to waste our money. Wish it wasn't like this, but that is how this state works.

Yes, I would be interested in hearing the interview process for the new administrator. It hasn't been working very well for the last 5 years, so I want to know what is being changed so we won't hire another dud. Again. Why do we have any reason to think that this year's process will hire anyone better this time?

Anonymous said...

I am 3:05pm yesterday and 6:24am this morning. No, I don't need to reminded that Oak Brook property taxes are much lower because of the mall's sales tax revenue. For my two children alone, I pay D181 approximately $37,000 a year in taxes.

I could certainly send them to private school, but I am a huge believer in public education. And no, I'm not supporting Oak Brook's children vs. our own. What I was trying to say is that I don't see a compelling reason for D53 to want to merge with us.

I think we have such vast resources in our district and I don't think our money is spent wisely by our administrative staff. I think more of our Board members (not just Giltner and Gray) need to demand accountability from Dr. White and his staff. Because it isn't their money being spent, they spend money foolishly. In my mind, there is no excuse for this curriculum mess and student results to be dropping when we have the resources. Our resources just need to be used more productively.

Anonymous said...

It's apparent that people are still angry or disappointed but to continue dreaming about the D53 or others being saviors is a serious waste of time. Oak Brook precincts that attend CHMS and HCS pay their taxes just like everyone else, so to assume they are getting something they shouldn't is silly. The school district is not the town's, so to think HCS is somehow Hinsdale's is foolish. The school belongs to the district and parts of OB are in the district. Villages have very little say in the boundaries of established school districts.

Credit Oak Brook with having the wisdom to have an enhanced tax base, something that Hinsdale does not and its poor Village leadership only makes worse - see downtown as evidence, how about the Amlings site, etc. People in this town want their cake but when it comes to hard decisions or compromises they have been unwilling or unable to make them. Hell, even Burr Ridge saw a need to create an enhanced shopping district to drive sales tax. Hinsdale has an old downtown that is quaint but with so much available space to rent, one has to wonder what the bigger problems are beside a village that doesn't have enough money to maintain its infrastructure, yet somehow has the money to cut patronage jobs - see public safety director.

Now, back to D181. The reality is the problems need to be fixed here, there are no easy outs or saviors so wasting your time pining for them is just that, a waste of time. HMS has an overcrowding issue and it has a leaky roof. Both need to be fixed. An addition to address the overcrowding and a new roof to address a known maintenance issue should be instituted. If they continue to waste time on referendums, I hope they have the common sense to remove all "lightening rods" as referenced in Ms. Mayers post. People in this town need to stop dreaming of things that should or could and deal with the way things are. Give me a proposal that is clean of these things and aggressive in its design and budget and it will get my vote. Think CHMS East as opposed to Highland Park South. It has to be done in a way that pays respect to the future issues that we "as smart people" know are coming and not this, "well we paid for Clarendon Hills mentality." You want to get this solved then it requires some smart and tough decisions. It need not alienate 1/2 the school attending portion of the district nor break the bank on people who really are not motivated to pay for a school since they do not have kids in the district. Doesn't matter how people feel about this, it is just the way it is.

Then again, this is the town whose streets require a Range Rover so maybe people will begin moving elsewhere relieving overcrowding....

Anonymous said...

Consolidation is a no brainer. It is the best way to pool resources and save tax dollars for both 53 and 181. Too bad our administration will do everything in its power to fight against the consolidation of Oak Brook and Hinsdale. They know that given the choice, everyone would vote to put District 53 in charge. This would cost only our administration their jobs. Teacher's salaries and tenure is protected under consolidation. The push for consolidation should have begun BEFORE any more new administrators are hired in D181. It should have been researched before we spent money on architects. A question about consolidation should have been included in at least ONE of the numerous surveys that parents are constantly asked to fill out. The fact that Dr. White is not currently under contract for next year, and, that Dr. Schneider is already leaving greatly simplifies this process.

Parents and residents need to start their own, independent committee in order to investigate consolidation. This might be a project for the Citizens of Clarendon Hills, especially since kids who live in Oak Brook are currently assigned to CHMS. However, know that you will have Hinsdale and Burr Ridge support. As long as the committee is not supervised by the administration or 181 Board of Education, I think there would be a great deal of community support, in both Oak Brook and Hinsdale for this. All we need are 50 signatures on a petition to get the ball rolling for consolidation. This is copied off the link that Jay Wick provided:

STEPS TO A CONSOLIDATION:
 Petition
 Local public hearing
 Regional superintendent approval  State Superintendent approval
 Referendum approval
PETITION:
 Who may petition
 The boards of education of each
affected school district, or
 Registered voters if signed by at least
50 voters or 10% of the voters residing within each affected district, whichever is less
 The petition is filed with the regional superintendent of the region where the greater percentage of equalized assessed valuation is situated
 The petition shall request the submission of the proposition to form a new district at a regular scheduled election
 The petition shall describe the territory comprising the proposed district......

What are we waiting for? All we need is 50 signatures to start this ball rolling. If Jay Wick starts this petition and places it on the blog, I, and others will support him. This will take a grass roots effort to pass because consolidation is not a "conversation" that Dr. White will never want to engage in......

Anonymous said...

Here is information from the ISBE link provided above. I suggest that parents read it because it is a brief, informative document. I have cut and pasted some information from it:

Consolidations are a form of reorganization where a new school district is created. A school board for the new district is elected and new tax rates are developed in a consolidation. Newly consolidated districts are eligible to receive incentive payments. Refer to the brochure School District Reorganization At a Glance for additional information regarding these incentive payments.

New districts can be formed through consolidation as follows:
* Two or more entire contiguous elementary districts may form a new elementary district
* Two or more entire elementary districts that are not contiguous but are collectively within or substantially coterminous with the boundaries of a high school district may form a new elementary district

Q. What are the different incentive payments available to a consolidated district?

A. A consolidated district may be eligible for the following incentive payments:
* General State Aid Difference
* Teacher Salary Difference
* Deficit Fund Balance
* $4,000 per Full-Time Certified Staff
A summary of each of these incentive payments is in the brochure School District Reorganization At a Glance, or a detailed explanation can be found in Section 11E- 135 of the School Code.

Q. Do tenured teachers whose positions are transferred to a consolidated district become tenured employees of the new district, with the same seniority rights they had in their former district?

A. Yes. The legal basis for this transfer of tenure rights is found in Section 24-11 of the School Code. The new school board shall treat any transferred teacher in the same manner as if the teacher had been its employee during the time employed by one of the former districts.

Q. Do non-certified staff members of the former districts have similar rights to be transferred as do tenured teachers?

A. Yes. The new district shall treat any transferred educational support personnel in the same manner as if that employee had been its employee during the time employed by one of the former districts. This brochure is not to be used in place of the School Code, but as an informational tool. For specific information regarding consolidations, refer to Article 11E of the School Code.

For additional information and assistance, please contact the School Business Services Division of the Illinois State Board of Education at 217/785-8779. Information is also available on the ISBE web page at: www.isbe.net/sfms/html/reorg_school.htm

Produced by the Illinois State Board of Education School Business Services Division
May 2015Q

Anonymous said...

The time to push for consolidation between 181 and 53 is now. The election this November is the perfect time to have consolidation on the ballot. If residents of both districts do not want it, then the only way to get a definitive answer is to actually ASK people. A vote is the only way for us to move on from this dream and start focusing on any other viable solutions. Right now, we have no other options.

We don't need 181 PR people or paid Consultants to make up any more skewed surveys. We don't want board members claiming that the consolidation process is too complicated - it is not. We do far harder things on a daily basis at work every day. We need the truth of how the process works to be made public and, we need to know the cost benefits of such a plan. If it didn't save money, then Rauner and the Department of Education would not be actively pushing for consolidation.

If the Village of Hinsdale truly does not support consolidation, this is the only way to force the hand of current village leaders to realize that we need their help to control the unreasonable waste that our district is forcing on us. Make them realize that we need more land for our schools. They cannot continue to refuse us park land if there is no where else to build. People with children want good schools, not park land. Schools can allow baseball and soccer games to take place on school land on the weekends. Our downtown needs more parking and needs to thrive again. The Village of Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills both need wake up calls to start behaving more like the successful village leaders of Burr Ridge, Naperville, Elmhurst and Oak Brook.
If residents of Oak Brook with children who attend D86 want our support for the high school referendum, they need to realize that residents of D181 cannot continue to sit and watch our property taxes rise while the quality of our K-8 schools drops. We cannot afford this, nor can they. Do they know that we spend 91% of our taxes on K-8, and that we are fed up? If D181 doesn't make some changes, and fast, there is no incentive for me to vote yes on the D86 referendum. I will simply send my kids to private high school.

The reality is, the location of Hinsdale Middle School in downtown Hinsdale is hurting our downtown, and thus, our whole village. It is taking up too much commercial land and is preventing our downtown from thriving. This makes our property taxes unreasonably high. If Hinsdale ever wants to build its tax base, then it must begin encourage the growth of our downtown area. Has anyone seen Downtown Naperville lately? It is thriving with beautiful condos and shops. Stores are leaving malls and going there. While we can't even fill the gorgeous spot that used to be rented out by the GAP, Naperville now has a Sephora, J.Crew and Athleta (a Gap store!) If shoppers stop going to Oak Brook in favor of Naperville, Oak Brook will begin feeling some pain, too. There should be an empty nester condo with its own underground parking structure on the spot where the eyesore called HMS sits. My parents would love to move to Hinsdale and live near us and help support our community. Empty nesters like this would help support the downtown restaurants and shops - and help fund education in town by providing us with more property tax dollars. Right now, Hinsdale is not meeting the needs of children, parents, empty nesters or retirees. Something needs to change, and the sooner residents rule out the options that will or will not
work, the better.

Anonymous said...

12:30 - white is under contract next year. He is in the second year of a three year contract

Anonymous said...

We should also look into consolidating with Maercker as they also feed into Hinsdale Central. This way, everyone going into Central will have the same curriculum.

Depending on how people feel about it, maybe we can consolidate with Hinsdale Central as well. Not sure if Hinsdale South will form its own district or maybe we can consolidate with all of South's feeders as well? Less administrators, plus curriculum from Kindergarten to 12th grade will be more streamlined.

My only concern with consolidation is there would be even more people who will say "what's in it for me?" should only one school need major renovations.

Anonymous said...

I think we should pay White the 3rd year of his contract but still move ahead with the plan for consolidation. The election isn't until November anyway. This will give him and the rest of his team a great excuse to start looking for other jobs.

Anonymous said...

Very good comments today. We need to get our elected school boards and village trustees thinking much bigger, broader and further into the future. And no, we don't need to hire a bunch of consultants or PR hacks to cram things down our throats. We have a lot of talent in the villages of Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills already.

We must have serious discussions regarding consolidation of school districts. I love the idea of helping rebuild Butler Middle and sending Monroe and the Lane kids there. We would need to build a much smaller middle school on a smaller site ( perhaps in Burr Ridge) I love the idea of lopping off half a dozen or more administrators with 6 figure salaries. Massive change is coming to the State of Illinois and we should be leading, not following.

We must get an appraisal of the current HMS site for use as mixed use retail and high end multi family residential. How about a nice parking deck like LaGrange, Elmhurst, and Naperville have?

FYI, we have not been a "quaint" village for at least 20 years. The quaintness died and has been replaced by speeding, horn honking, stop sign running crazy people in their $90,000 SUVs. Let's stop pretending to be quaint and move this village into 2016. We are looking at you too Clarendon Hills.

We will thankfully never have a giant mall and all that open land like Oak Brook. But every time my wife and I spend money on a weekend evening in Elmhurst, LaGrange or Naperville, I can't help but think why can't Hinsdale have more going on?

The village and the BOE must decide what is best for the current HMS site and where and what size the next middle school will be. I actually agree with the folks on the Yes for HMS facebook page that this failure will result in good things for the future.

The facilities committee and BOE had blinders on and locked into a terrible proposal. Their failures have been well documented here and elsewhere. We truly need to start with a big blank piece of paper. The Hinsdale Village Board must be involved. Perhaps Burr Ridge as well. District 53 must be involved.

Time for same old same old is over. I have looked on the D181 website. I would love to volunteer some time. If Dr. White and the BOE are serious, they could publish a post here and on Facebook and in the local papers to get volunteers to help with this effort.

Anonymous said...

It is foolish to think D53 would ever agree to dissolve itself to reform with part of or all of the current d181. Why exactly do you think any resident in Oak Brook would want their taxes to increase? I mean really, do the math. Their tax rate is heavily subsidized by their businesses. Under no circumstance would combining with D181 ever lower their taxes, only increase them. This is the same type of logic that proposed a bloated school. The reality of what is going on in Hinsdale is that taxes will go up and it will get a little more uncomfortable but to assume Oak Brook or even Westmont with their huge auto tax base would help subsidize another district is silly. Even White is smart enough to not waste his time on that. They would probably hang-up laughing, I know I would.

jay_wick said...

OMG!!! How thick are some people!

There is no "subsidy" from businesses supporting the schools in Oak Brook. NONE of the sales tax revenue from the mall goes to any unit government beside the Village. That would not change. The same sorts of revenue stream from the businesses in Grant Square or downtown Hinsdale or along Ogden could be said to offer the same benefits...


The relative value of office buildings inside the boundaries of D53 is significant, but to say that "subsidizes" the property taxes that support D53 is not accurate, any more than saying the businesses inside the area served by D181 also contribute property taxes but generate no students.

The relative increase in that any homeowner in D53 might experience would extremely minimal and the benefit for them having access a much wider range of resources that ought to boost the appeal for families with kids (which is nearly at a crisis level...) would more than offset any such increase...

Anonymous said...

Jay. A couple of things on the taxes. I don't see anywhere in the previous post that sales receipts was mentioned. Real property is taxed regardless of who owns it. Oak Brook has very large commercial property tax base. The mall BTW does not fall within D53 boundaries but pretty much everything south of it does. Same in Westmont. All those businesses are commercial properties paying property tax and are assessed. Hinsdale's property is generally comprised solely of individual homes thereby being the only source for the schools. To assume that the portion that the office complexes and the businesses (aside from the mall) are generating is not significant is being disingenuous. The fact that Hinsdales rate is as low as it is without the commercial properties and the sales receipts is actually astounding. This is not to say the school district in Hinsdale is underfunded, it is not, it is the infrastructure that is getting killed, hence the need for a Range Rover on the streets. Regardless, if you can get the people of District 53 to agree to merge with D181 I would be all for it, just think we will have to solve our problems first.

BTW, didn't D53 just get crushed as well on trying a 40MM referendum. That is in a town that has the lowest overall tax rate in the county (i.e it doesn't matter how much you are paying, people have zero desire to pay more).

Anonymous said...

Just for comparison, I did a little research on a typical (nice) home in Hinsdale and Oak Brook. Now this is on the high end but for comparison sake, it works. Both homes have a Fair Cash value of approx 500K give or take 2 grand. Both homes also have similar land and building values. The home in Oak Brook pays roughly 18,568 in taxes. Yep on a 2 MM home whilst the home in Hinsdale pays 23,200 in taxes. Interestingly, the home in Oak Brook pays D86, $7,584 while the one in Hinsdale pays $ 5,286. More interesting to this board should be, the home in Oak Brook pays D53, $ 6041.77 while the one in Hinsdale pays D181 a whopping $9,476.66. There is obviously some debt service on the D181 number and I am not sure of the debt carried by D53 (suspect it is minimal). The point? D53 is getting more with less. Not sure why adding our scale gets them anything other than a district that is no longer providing a value for the money. By the way, that Hinsdale house would have been paying quite a bit more if the referendum passed.

Long story short, there is little financial incentive for D53 or Westmont to join our ranks. They have assets that we do not have and those assets will help them fund their coming issues much more efficiently than the scale would by adding D181 and its hot mess. Hinsdale's problem is that it school district takes way too much money and spends it poorly and it Village takes way to little and its infrastructure is wasting away. BTW, where did those people think the money was coming from to pay for that parking garage. If the village had that kid of money laying around they would have done a few more streets I suspect - or did that extra go to put bricks in on First?

jay_wick said...

If the above poster extolling the virtues of Westmont's "commercial tax base" bothered to pull their head out of their posterior they'd soon see that property tax rate in Westmont is considerably higher than that of the portion of Oak Brook served by D53 or any part of Hinsdale.

The data is available from the Illinois Interactive report card.

Westmont Community Unit D201: $4.55/100
D181 + D86: $3.85/100
D53 + D86: $2.65/100

For comparison let's look at the rates in other towns like Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Naperville or Western Springs or even the area served Salt Creek Elementary / Willowbrook High --
D58+D99:$4.02/100
Elmhurst Community Unit D205: $4.80/100
Naperville Community Unit D203:$4.99/100
D101+ D204: $5.19/100
D48+D88:$3.57/100

The simple fact is any of the "commercial property" allegedly subsidizing Oak Brook is ALSO doing the same for D86, again under consolidation that would not change!

The math further shows that other towns with lots of commercial property are not really outliers, any change that might be reflected in property tax bills for Oak Brook would not carry the existing debt load of D181 and the consolidated district would still likely have an extremely attractive position on the ranking by tax rates.

For the folks concerned about the roads in Hinsdale they need to address their Village trustees. I know of no convenient source to compare municipal property tax rates, nor any of the other myriad taxing districts that might be on one's bill. The DuPage County Clerk publishes a summary, though comparisons between different townships / counties is problematic and when even Clarendon Hills has more than a dozen Special Service Areas that boost taxes between .1070 & 1.5112 any meaningful analysis is all but impossible...

Anonymous said...

Jay,

The topic is D53 and Oak Brook so please stick to that. District 181 and D 53. Tell me how you are going to convince the people of Oak Brook to dissolve their district and combine with Dist 181 and in doing that please show me the argument that it going to get residents to do this. I say they will vote their pocket book and see their rate will increase and it won't be just a little. Regardless of whatever that number is if you can come up with an argument that a) shows there won't be a tax increase on the residents of Oak Brook and b) somehow improves the lot of the average Oak Brook resident I am all ears. BTW, a civil tone is probably best.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Info Jay Wick. I admit, I don't know very much about taxes and who gets what kind of tax, so please forgive my ignorance. If I may infringe on your good nature, you mentioned that Oak Brook Mall's sales tax goes to the municipal government. I'm curious: how much revenue does Hinsdale's & Clarendon Hills' municipal governments get from the town's sales tax, and how much from property taxes? Also, how much of our property taxes go to the municipal governments? I ask because if any of our property taxes go to the municipal government, maybe the village could find a way bring more businesses into our town, get more sales tax, etc. That's one reason why I was happy to see that the village ion Hinsdale was willing to pitch in for a parking deck at a new HMS. More parking spots = more shoppers can come. Anyways, the municipal government could lower property taxes, or fix the roads. One interesting difference between Hinsdale & Clarendon Hills I found is that Clarendon Hills does a much better job plowing its streets during the winter. I just hope Hinsdale learns a thing or two.

I hope I'm not being too thick, Jay. I mean well, but sometimes it's hard to judge intentions on the internet. Just know that I have a great respect for you.

Anonymous said...

Jay,

I don't understand your numbers. What does "$4.80/100" mean? What are you measuring? 100 what? Is this a tax rate? Is this dollars spent per student? It's unclear as written.

I'll bet my confusion is not unique.

Anonymous said...

My two cents on the Village of Hinsdale. We had two very weak presidents and a weak group of trustees for about 8 years. A lot of money was spent on consultants and lawyers and they were running around trying to build high rises on Ogden and very large buildings downtown. They had their own agenda and did not care what residents thought.

Tom Cauley and his group of trustees have served us well for the past 7 years. I will be sad when he rotates off next year. The focus has rightly been on streets and sewers and they have made a dent in the mess they inherited. Not as fast as we would like, but at least we know where the money is going and it is not going to consultants and lawyers. I have never had a problem with my streets being plowed in the winter and we have been here 25 years.

I think we are at a unique point in time in our village and in the life of D181. Our population has aged quite a bit. 15 years ago there was not a large demand for downtown residential development and today I believe that might have changed. 15 years ago a modest parking deck would have been shouted down. Now as I drive over to LaGrange on Sunday morning to have brunch, I am able to quickly find a place to park in their modest attractive parking facility. Ditto for Elmhurst, although ours does not have to be that large.

If we rebuild HMS on that site, it is going to last 100 years ( it had better last that long!). That will preclude downtown Hinsdale from evolving into nothing more than a couple of blocks of shops and businesses with the constant struggle for parking. Our sales and property tax base will be pretty much locked into what we have now.

The Village trustees and the D181 BOE need to have substantive serious discussions about the best use of that site for both parties. Should a middle school be on that site in the middle of a downtown business area? What could that land be sold for and what kind of positive use for the village could go there? How big should the next middle school be and where should it be located?

There has been a little bit of lip service over the years over this issue, but nothing substantive. And this is not all on the school board. The Village Trustees and Plan Commission really need to step it up.

For those of us that read the local papers, there is a major lawsuit regarding the Institute of Basic Life Principles. They are a quasi religious training organization that owns a substantial piece of property in Northwest Hinsdale. ( North of Ogden West of Madison going over to Rte 83). That organization is moving to Texas and that property will be sold/redeveloped at some point. I believe it is currently zoned "Institutional". Schools, Hospitals that sort of thing is currently an approved use. That land might have a purpose here as well.

Someone mentioned Amlings the other day. The lawsuit was just settled, so the owners can now develop that property as long as it is in code. It is way too small for a middle school.

My point is we need to take a step back. Look at ALL options. Decide what the middle school should be, how many students, etc. Look at consolidation with other units of government. Hinsdale needs to decide what its downtown could be with another large chunk of land. Blank Page, no preconceived notions.

The world is changing. Let us be a part of shaping that change.

Ann Mueller said...

PART I: First of all, 3/16, 7:44 am, everything you listed that you think needs to be considered for a new HMS was considered this time around. Call me (630-804-8538) after spring break and I will show you all the documentation and talk with you about it. But, that would mean you would actually have to identify yourself. Plus, I think you should absolutely volunteer to be the first person on the new Facilities Committee, along with several of the other posters on this blog.

I would like to answer both 3/16, 8:15 am and 3/17, 10: 04 am's questions about both the interview process for the new Asst Supt. of Learning and the actual individual selected, Kelley Gaullt. I was a member of the interview committee for this position. Kelley Gaullt was absolutely my #1 choice of all the individuals interviewed, even above the person first offered the job who turned D181 down. I didn't select the individual who first turned D181 down as my first choice, because I could tell that person was only going through the interview process in order to go back to their current district and get a longer contract and more money. And, that is exactly what happened! I've seen it happen before. You know when a candidate walks out the door and tells you "Good Luck!" that they aren't genuinely interested in the job!

Anyway, as a former teacher, D181BOE member and BOE president, and someone who experienced D181 at its best, I absolutely recognize, as mentioned, that D181's curriculum is a "hot mess."The last eight years have been a disaster in D181 in the area of curriculum. D181 is absolutely in great need of an educational leader who can assess the D181 situation by talking with teachers, administrators, parents, and other community members and then, with the knowledge of best practice and appropriate educational approaches for D181, assemble a plan for D181, roll out that plan and assess the plan's outcomes. I genuinely believe that Kelley Gaullt has the background, experience and knowledge base to do exactly what D181 needs!

Anonymous said...

Ok let's switch gears and talk about the editorial in the hinsdalean yesterday. First, I think the paper showed its bias by reporting a story slanted to the vote yes side. The focus of the article should of been the majority of the voters have spoken and do not support this. That clearly was not the angle they took. As for the editorial, I agree largely with the editorial but take issue with the following:

1. The administration is largely to blame, which is never pointed out. They are supposed to run this ship. They missed every deadline presented, they proposed the design contest, and they proposed the aggressive timeline which was doomed from the beginning.

2. The problem wasn't that the BOE spent too much time selecting the architect, the problem was that the time frame was too compressed from the get go in order to get this on the ballot in March.

3. Architects are not involved in the referendum process so her claim that an architect should of been chosen with a better track record of getting referendums passed is odd.

4. Monroe will never move to the new school. The reason is that then next referendum will need to be stripped of bells and whistles and the square footage will need to get greatly reduced in order to bring down the price to a more palatable level.

5. She neglected to mention the main reason that the referendum failed - it was too expensive. No amount of additional time to campaign was going to change that.

Ann Mueller said...

Part 2: In reviewing the Dept. of Learning in D181 over the last 8 years, we have experienced Asst. Supt.s for Learning who may have had PhD's, but in the case of one individual, the PhD was in facilities, NOT CURRICULUM. Therefore, this person knew nothing about curriculum and that was the beginning of the "hot mess!" In addition, while this individual was head of the Dept. of Learning, other individuals were added to the D of L, who may have had PhD's (again NOT IN CURRICULUM) and there was a case that D181 actually PAID FOR a person's PhD, but they were worthless!!!! Perfect example where experience and actual knowledge gained on the job trumps rushing to get a degree every time. It is unfortunate that in today's education world, very few administrators take the time to gain the actual work experience and knowledge base along with the graduate degree, like in the "old days." In general, today's administrators rush to get a degree, in order to increase their salaries, but do not have the work experience and knowledge base necessary to do the job. Have we seen this situation in D181?? YES!!! There were and are administrators in D181 who had/have higher level degrees and KNEW/KNOW NOTHHING!!! That is why D181 has experienced 8 years of curriculum "downfall!" Also, I need to mention, administrators in D181 recently that have been elevated to positions that they had no training or experience in, but for some reason they ended up in the D of L. I don't need to name names because you know who they are. Fortunately, one is leaving and Dr. White and the BOE had better get rid of the other before Kelley Gaullt joins the district.

Kelley's job of fixing the curriculum mess in D181 is a big one and will take time. She is up to the challenge and has the knowledge base and experience, but she should not have to deal with the inept current people who NEVER belonged in the D of L to begin with! Kelley needs to be able to come in, assess the messy situation in D181 and develop a plan to fix the "hot mess." She needs to be able to have people she trusts and knows have the knowledge base and experience to help her with the D181 challenge. She needs her own people, not worthless individuals who have sucked up to pervious superintendents to get elevated to positions they had no business ever being in. As you can tell, I feel very strongly on this point. If Dr. White does not let Kelley do her job...come in and assess the situation by talking with teachers, administrators, parents and community members then develop a plan to fix the D181 situation with the people she needs and trusts...then he needs to go. This will be a huge test of Dr. White's perception of what now needs to happen in D181 since he really blew it to begin with. You know what I mean!!!!!



Enough lamenting, but it is painful to see what our D181 students have been exposed to or not exposed to over the last 8 years. Our students are resilient. However, I can't help but think how well they'd be doing if they had been exposed to the right things! To have to now overcome exposure to inappropriate or lacking curriculum is a shame. But, believe me,your children can and will do it. And, they, in all probability, possibly will be better students for it. Regardless of our desire as parents that our students only experience the best their whole lives, life presents challenges. As a former principal at Elm once told me, it is far better that our children experience failures and challenges early in life and learn from these challenges so that they carry on in their lives with the necessary coping skills to be successful. I have seen proof of this in my adult children's lives.

Ann Mueller said...

Part 3: I'm almost finished. As far as Kelley Gaullt's background and experience in education, the reason she was my first choice for the D181 position of Asst. Supt. for Learning is because she has experienced and done it all! She was a classroom teacher, a specialist, an assist. principal, a principal and, finally, a curriculum person. And, as a curriculum person, she worked in a K-12 district and had SpEd as her responsibility, too. Believe me, you just don't see educators with this depth and breath of experience anymore. They just don't exist anymore.

On top of Kelley's knowledge base and experience, my perception is, and I have also been told this by someone who has worked with Kelley, that Kelley possesses exceptional people skills. D181 has NOT experienced an Asst. Supt. for Learning with that skill set for a very long time. My understanding is that Kelley is a "child centered educator." She wants what is best for kids. That will be a new and different experience in D181, too. I don't mean to be horribly sarcastic, but it is about time D181had an administrator who cared about kids and not just about themselves and their career. Please, give Kelley Gaullt the chance she deserves to do right by our students. She will need your support for her to make the changes necessary to bring D181 back to being the"lighthouse" district it use to be. She knows what to do because she has done it before. Let's help her in any way we can. Our students deserve the best.

Anonymous said...

Ms Mueller:

Thank you for sharing your comments and your passion for education in our district. I really hope you are right about Kelley and her abilities because the district curriculum really needs to be fixed as quickly as possible. I am cautiously optimistic because having watched Don White's blunders during the past two years, I do not believe he is capable of allowing Kelley to come into the district and do what she needs to do. White will not want to look badly by admitting the curriculum is as bad as we all know it is, and he would not want his employee admitting this, even within a 100 slide show presentation, which is his method of burying poor results. He has made bad decisions, one of which you pointed out, and our kids are still paying the price. As you said, White needs to go, but sooner rather than later.
The parents I know are very upset about the state of education their kids are receiving, and that is part of what motivated many of us to vote no. We have to see big changes if we are going to trust the board to go forward with another referendum, even at a lower price tag. You may not like this, but it's a reality. This district has spend tens of thousands of $ on EDds (not PhDs) at Aurora University for current and former incompetent administrators. $50,000 on a failed tech consultant. Inflated administrative salaries. I could go on. Reckless spending and bad decisions has to end before I will even consider paying higher taxes for a new HMS.

jay_wick said...

I agree switching gears is a good idea. As should be obvious, when folks don't grasp how the very important distribution of tax revenues are handled I do take umbrage to such things, though I freely admit that I do believe the very design of Illinois financial house of cards is architected primarily to leave folks feeling bewildered and seeking the counsel of experts...

It should be clear that despite the earnest motives held by the editorial staff of the Hinsdalean, they really do not understand the issues very well either. Even when it comes to providing reporters to document the happenings at the BOE they seem to lack the resources of other news outlets and often simply rely on the district provided summary. That often badly biases the coverage, creating a story that does not match reality.

The largest reality that more Illinois residents have come to understand is that despite 'spin' to the contrary Illinois has been in a budgetary death spiral since the decisions during the ill-fated Blagojevich administration to forego required pension payments and attempt to borrow its way to solvency. That is why voters embraced the message of reform offered up as only a true outsider could put forth -- things must change!

Unfortunately for the "old guard" those changes mean loss of control and much uncertainty. Try as they might, those who may have once held sway over public opinion increasingly see that their tactics no longer can convince people to act against economic reality. You can't put a $65M referendum past a public that was originally promised something closer to $40M, especially when the real "full menu" option was $73M.

Over a year ago I tried to make it clear that any effort to rebuild HMS on the site it occupies would be both enormously costly and very time consuming. Few people wanted to hear that message but as even the highly skilled professionals who both volunteered to oversee such plans and those paid to draft such concepts proved, that message is undeniable.

I do not believe it will be possible to convince enough voters that a less costly solution for the same site is in the best interest of the community; that would harken back to the original problems that the existing HMS has carried since its completion in 1976. More time won't change that fact. More consultants won't change that. Even a better organized "coffee circuit" won't be able to twist enough arms to support a proposal that really does not serve enough of the true interests of the whole community.

The only logical path forward is something that can offer more people a better solution and I believe that solution must include out -of-the-box thinking that leverages the mood of voters to consolidate government units for greater long term fiscal sustainability.

I freely admit that this task will require a different set of skills than merely trying to extoll the virtues of a building that is aesthetically pleasing and replaces the portable units with permanent classroom space. It will require someone that is an unusually skilled communicator that can spread the message of cost savings, long term viability and expanded opportunity. Such a message must also build on the good will shared by those who do see Oak Brook and its neighbors as already holding a common set of beliefs about the value of education and community support. The many long term residents that are equally at home the Bath & Tennis, Salt Creek Club, Woods Pool or Lions Park Pool really do have more in common than keeping them apart.

Ann Mueller said...

I wish the discussion about comparing 181 and OB and Westmont would stop. It is a total waste of time and brain cells.
OB has Oak Brook shopping center to hugely support its educational base. Jay Wick, you are a product of this district, but have chosen to live in CH/D181. Let it go! Everyone has the choice of where they choose to live and where they choose to educate their children. Everyone could have chosen to live in OB. I for one, chose not to live in OB and chose to educate my children in D181. Having grown up in this area and wanting a "neighborhood school environment" for my children, chose to live in D181 and not live in OB or even send my children to Avery Coonly. I believe there are several components to developing a well-rounded, well-educated child. That's my personal opinion and choice. As I said, we all have our own choices. But don't ever think that OB or even Westmont want to combine with D181. What makes you think the majority of D181community members would want to combine with OB or Westmont. OB has it great right now. Low taxes. Low pupil/teacher ratios in the schools. Great outcomes and test scores. And, a superior, curriculum experienced superintendent. Why would OB want to take on all of D181's issues???

Having taught in the Westmont district, I can tell you it is a different district than D181. And, please don't think I'm saying that in a bad way. At one time, there was no Westmont High School and the Westmont students went to DGN and HC. As the student population increased in Westmont in the 70's, the Westmont community decided that it would "foot the bill" for a new middle school and high school. Previously, the junior high students had been housed at Manning School with elementary students. The Westmont community always felt that their high school student were "looked down upon" at DGN and HC. Anyway, Westmont Middle School and High School have rather small pupil populations which actually affords them some special opportunities. I seriously doubt if the Westmont community, as a whole, would want to combine with D181, although the Blackhawk Heights area has approached D181 in the past to no avail.

Anyway, either move to another district or stop complaining. As long as you stay in D181, realize there is no commercial base to support our kids' education, like the Oak Brook Shopping Center, and other districts don't necessarily want to share their tax dollars with us or join us. Get real! Focus on the issues and genuine possible solutions.

Ann Mueller said...

Jay, so building on the present location of HMS will be costly and time consuming. Ok, so WHERE are you going to build the new HMS? You only present road blocks and no solutions, again. So, tell us, what is your"out-of-the-box thinking"...oh, yes, "consolidating government units for greater long term fiscal sustainability!" As I have mentioned before, it won't ever happen, get real. You can keep on dreaming, but in the meantime, students and teachers are existing in a jam-packed, horribly disfunctional HMS that now is going to have to have millions of dollars sunk into it. Please come up with a rational, realistic solution and please immediately sign up to be on the new facilities committee!!!

Anonymous said...

Ann,

I'm curious to know what specifically about Ms. Gault's background convinced you she was the right person for the job.

I found the District's press release about her to be underwhelming. Governor's State isn't exactly a bastion of higher learning. I think if you can fog a mirror, they'll admit you. The only other details it gave concerned her employment as a classroom teacher, differentiation specialist, elementary school assistant principal, and elementary school principal. It also mentioned she is the Director of Teaching and Learning for a Yorkville school(isn't that where Dr. Don comes from?) Only her last position is really related to curriculum.

Anyway, just based the information provided so far, I would not have been convinced to hire her.

The only specific information you offered about her experience is that she's a "curriculum person." But what does that mean? How long has she been a Director of Learning and how has her school done under her leadership? What ideas, if any, about curriculum has she brought to Yorkville that were not in place before? Were the changes successful? How so? What ideas about curriculum does she have for our District? Based on her research before accepting the interview, what immediate changes would she implement? Does she believe in direct instruction or "guide on the side" nonsense? How should advanced learners be identified?

To me, neither her experience nor her education screams "curriculum," which is what we need. So, I'm wondering if you have any insight on these questions.

I pray she is the right person for the job. If she's not, we really need to take a hard look at the folks conducting the interviews.

jay_wick said...

Golly, won't happen ever? Will supporters of the failed proposal try to block progress that does not focus on their preferred site? Sounds like maybe some folks are a wee bit attached to the old ways of thinking.

I am offering a way forward. One that might be threatening to those that like the present situation, but one that could actually shake things up, create a better learning environment for more students, and reduce the overall costs of running a more efficient district. Might such a future frighten some folks? Maybe a new consolidated district would not be as compliant to manipulation by unelected advisors?

Does it trouble none of the supporters that so many voters rejected this proposal? Are some folks taking the loss perhaps as a personal rejection instead of more rationally trying to come up with alternatives?

The range of options that were "vetted" seems in hindsight more like a cursory step toward what was the preferred site of a relatively small subgroup within the larger community and less like the freewheeling "Dream big" direction offered to those making a wish list for the concept.

Clearly it does not make sense to reject any plans that could be beneficial. If there are not yet enough folks that understand the positives of consolidation the proper course of action is education, not clinging to the old ways.

I specifically rejected offers to put out a sign that would make this referendum a political football. Nothing good comes from pitting neighbors against each other.
I attended many meetings where I supported the input of staff of the existing middle schools. I listened to concerns of BOE members that were not comfortable putting this proposal in front of voters. I am on the record as hoping that the difficult message of skyrocketing costs would not doom the Cordagan Clark & Associates proposal, but voters rejected it.

I doubt there will be any way to rescue the failed proposal and if we truly believe that the existing HMS is far less than optimal for the needs of students and staff (as I too have publicly stated for many many years!) then we must expand the range of options. To instead "double down" on a single concept and attempt to shoot down any alternatives would be exceptionally narrow minded.

Ann Mueller said...

11:20, it is so sad that you and many others could not separate the new HMS decision from the "hot mess" curriculum issue. They are truly two separate issues. Now, that you all have voted "no" to a new HMS, a new HMS later will only force our current HMS students and teachers to suffer longer in that dysfunctional building. In addition, a new building is only going to cost our community more money later. And, millions of dollars have to be dumped into that place now. As a previous middle school teacher, it is so horribly painful for me to see more $ go into that awful building. I just wish individuals like you, would have been able to trust those of us on the Fac. Comm. to be sure that no more nonsense would occur and things would work out right. In addition to highly experienced individuals in the areas of building and engineering serving on the Fac. Comm., Mike Woerner and I have a pretty good reputation for renovating, adding on to and building buildings in D181. Too bad you couldn't trust our integrity and history of doing what is right for D181. FYI, Mike and I spent one whole summer negotiating the land swap with CH Park District that led to the building of CHMS. Prior to that, Mike and I, as BOE members, worked to purchase the houses that sat where the current Prospect School sits. Granted we served with other BOE members who, along with us, supported a clear vision to do what was best for ALL D181 students. And, the superintendent at that time was not great or trustworthy and we had to do "battle" with him many times to get what was best for the D181 students. Can't say I believe that what is best for kids is always happening in D181 today. I even question a couple of current BOE members motives where this referendum was involved. They will only prove me wrong by their future actions. I guess, so be it for now. In my opinion, this is a case of live and learn. But, it is going to be a costly lesson. When whoever, because it won't be me, spends their time and talents developing the next plan for a new HMS, I guarantee it will only prove that the 38 teaching stations with the 21st century middle school necessities that were in the spring 2016 plans at 2016 costs were a good deal. Good luck with it. As I've said, I just feel so bad for the HMS students and teachers. I'll be encouraging and looking for the D181 BOE to establish PARITY for all D181 middle school students. As I've said before, ALL D181 middle school students deserve the opportunity to be educated in our current HMS facility and I mean the CH and Monroe attendance area students, too. I'll be waiting and watching at all future BOE meeting to see if this happens.

If Dr. White does not allow Kelley to do her job and fix the D181 curriculum mess, I for one will be standing at the microphone at a BOE meeting calling for his dismissal. I have point blank told him this exact thing. He has made his mistakes, that is for sure. D181 can't afford any more of his mistakes. However, having said that, I do believe there is definite hope for the district with the two new administrative hires. I have stated my opinion on Kelly, but in looking at the background and credentials of the new SpEd person, in my opinion, she looks very, very promising! To have someone in SpEd that has a law background is very valuable. Her educational experiences are very impressive, too. Having a daughter who does school law with a primary focus on SpEd, I think there is enormous potential for the D181 SpEd department to get turned around and for our students get the servicing they deserve with Dr. Sepiol. I hope Dr. White allows these two women to do their jobs and the D181 community also gives them the chance they and our students deserve.

Anonymous said...

I love 2:16, 9:36's and Jay Wicks thoughts. They are spot on precisely because they dare to explore alternatives that were never offered to us. I think Oak Brook & Hinsdale would be thrilled to get rid of the Institute of Basic Life Principals and it would be a perfect place for a middle school. Ann, we know our kids are resistant because of the amount of garbage they have waded through these last 5 years, but I find the previous comments about their "resistance" insensitive, if not offensive.

If a more logical, less expensive option had been offered, the community would have supported the building. In example, why didn't the Facilities Committee ever figure out that the Basic Life Principals land might be available? Jay Wick mentioned it several times months ago. Maybe because the FC never hired a realtor to find out? The carriage was bought before the horse. The most offensive thing about this project was the poorly founded assumption that somehow, a new building, would solve the curricular and leadership problems plaguing our district the last 5 years! I also find it rude that A.M suggests that we and our children should stop complaining while she chastises us. Why should we be asked to move because 181 decided to drop the ball on our kids so they could focus on innovations, social justice, math pilots, and building the middle school version of the Palace of Versailles? It never made sense, and our test scores and general dissatisfaction with our schools reflect that. A new school was never going to fix the curriculum or make our leaders make better decisions.
I hope that the BOE calls another meeting soon to start the process of what the next steps will be to address the problems of leaky roofs and properties that are or will be available soon. In the meantime, it is important to not overlook the potentially, easiest solutions. Finally, let's address the fact that Oak Brook would not be losing money if they gained our tax dollars if our kids went to their schools. Oak Brook would be gaining great kids as well as 91% of our property tax bill. That is not shabby. Some families will pay more and some will pay less. Furthermore, I have a feeling most parents would be more than willing to pay any additional fees Oak Brook deemed necessary. That is not a loss. In return, Oak Brook would gain my vote to support a new referendum to help support their schools. I would think that a quick addition to Butler's flat land wouldn't take that long. Portables could be an option there, too, especially since they could be located in the back and shielded by trees. 8.9 acres is plenty of room for 150 more kids. Everyone should also keep in mind that property taxes are not the only ways to fund public schools. Every year, parents are being asked to pay more and more in supplemental fees and materials. Personally, I like the idea of fees. Why should a family with 1 child pay the same amount as a person with 6 kids just because their homes are comparable in price? There obviously is a cost benefit to sharing. Since Lane & Monroe are the closet to Butler's 8.9 acres of middle school, and all of these children would wind up at Hinsdale Central, it would boost the sense of belonging for the Oak Brook children when they get to high school.
Change is not easy, but D53 and D181 have needs that are uniquely filled by collaboration. If we put our heads together and begin thinking of some creative solutions to our problems, we will certainly come up with some bad, but also, some decent options. However, if we perseverate on the same failed idea, we will never find a solution. We must fully research ALL solutions, not just the ones that we think will work. I encourage others to propose ideas that they think will be the fastest, best way to solve the HMS crisis. Hopefully, no one will attack your opinions or tell you to move.

Ann Mueller said...

Sorry, Jay, I'm not attached to "old ways of thinking" and I'm not impractical and stupid. What you suggest doesn't threaten me at all. I am a pretty open minded person and someone who likes to entertain new solutions to problems. However, those solutions must be practical and have some element of possibility. I actually refuse to read any more of your statements when you infer that people's goals are to "manipulate" situations.



Oh, by the way, I don't take the "loss as a personal rejection." Maybe a waste of my time, but not a "personal rejection." I was involved as a BOE member in the two failed referendums for the renovation and addition to HMS, which would have allowed 1,200 students at the current HMS site, which in my opinion would have put way too many students at that relatively small space. Those two failed referendums led to the successful referendum for CHMS. So, I'm hopeful that in sometime very soon another referendum will go forward and a new HMS will occur. Nothing is a true failure if one learns from it ...isn't that what we teach our children? I'm open to new approaches to solve problems, but they have to be practical and doable. (Correction: I was involved in three failed referendums...there was an advisory referendum run to get feedback on whether the community would support grade level centers and that one failed, too. Guess I'm experienced at failed referendums!)

Also, to my knowledge, as a member of the Fac. Comm. and someone who worked with the Ref. Comm., no one "pitted neighbors against each other." Maybe as a CH resident you felt that way? Did you think when the Hinsdale and BR segments of the D181 community supported and voted for CHMS and the new Walker and Prospect Schools that those referendums "pitted neighbors against each other?" I think it was a case back then that an entire school community came together to do what was right for all D181 students. As in past referendums, educating the voters about the issues and the investigated and chosen solution is a necessity. I guess the voters need more education as to, as you say you are a supporter of, the absolute need for a new HMS. You can waste your time on your consolidation concept, but it won't happen in your and my life time and, in the mean time, I guess lots of D181 middle school students and teachers will have to suffer in that miserable building.

Anonymous said...

Meant to write resilient not resistant.

jay_wick said...

Ann: Again, the decision of whether the entire community might in fact support efforts to streamline two very similar districts into one that is more efficient, has more resources and potentially lower costs is something that any logically inclined person should be willing to explore. Saying things like it can't happen is unnecessarily defeatist. One will not truly know what will be supported until it is placed before the voters.

Some folks really are so trapped in their old habits that they can't see they are quite literally lost in a hall of mirrors, where reality is so distorted that even those who helpfully try to point out a new path to success are rejected simply because they are not part of the infinite reflections of the protagonist. Those that led this effort must take responsibility for its defeat and not blame those that warned the process was far too rushed, not inclusive of the whole community and badly out of step with the mood of voters.

I am sorry that you see my efforts to bring about positive changes as a waste of time. I sincerely wish you'd have a open mind for any solution that would benefit the whole community. I would welcome efforts to bridge the gulf that you seem to wish make wider. I take no pleasure in having an online debate but instead believe that the potential for positive change is so great that we must explore every option. I've lived in town for more than twenty years and before that spent nearly thirty years in Oak Brook, I know what matters to people and a big part of that is reflected in the how information is shared. Tiny groups that aren't inclusive will fail, big groups that embrace big ideas are successful. Years ago when my kids were not yet in school and there was organized opposition the referendum that funded Walker and the improvement to other schools I loaded by kids in a wagon and knocked on the doors that had the "NO" signs in their yard. I politely but firmly stated that though my kids would attend the then newly constructed Prospect the opponents owed it to themselves to visit the old Walker. Those signs came down and the referendum passed. I know how to motivate voters.

Last spring, when the forces that worked to paint trustees of Clarendon Hills in a negative light forced out the candidate selected by the Caucus I was unafraid of calling out those that fostered that negativity. A huge effort to get behind a write-in candidate was undertaken and that candidate was victorious in a landslide made possible by the concerted efforts of a huge number of volunteers.

Please don't get stuck in a distorted view of what can be achieved and what cannot!

Anonymous said...

Too bad A.M. cannot comprehend that no matter how much she boasts about her trustworthiness and qualifications, the referendum failed because not enough people liked it. Plain and simple, it was not convincing enough. Instead of blaming the jury for finding the project guilty of haste and extravagance, FC should stop blaming everyone else and start analyzing ways to take the cost down and make this more palatable to the public. Or, get off the committee and let someone else get on and take a stab at it. The thought of working alongside a person this stubborn and inflexible to explore new ideas will do nothing to encourage new volunteers to step forward. Instead of taking pleasure in our children suffering longer in HMS, think of how you and your committee failed, and how this particular referendum helps perpetuate government waste and bankruptcy in Illinois. The Facilities Committee's actions, although not willful, caused our children to sit longer in that mess called HMS. Had they held the architects to a budget of $40 million, like we were promised, they would have gotten much more support. Now do you understand why no one has faith in this committee? People don't like bait and switch tactics. It was too expensive and was rammed down our throats in a take it or shove it manner. If she and the rest of the committee had bothered to listen to parent concerns about the price and the current needs, not the needs and wants of our community based on skewed surveys and rigid mindsets of FC members, more people would have been convinced to vote yes.

Anonymous said...

Ann, ironically, you make our point without even realizing it! The failed referendums that you worked on in the past failed because they were bad ideas that were poorly thought out. Imagine today if we had approved one giant middle school 25 years ago in downtown Hinsdale. The current student population would be approaching 1500 in a school then designed for 1200. Imagine the traffic problems with all those buses and monster SUVs picking children up.

The BOE and "experts" 25 years ago wanted same old same old. Let's build a big new school on the same site, because we are not capable of imagining another solution. OMG, we have to negotiate with Clarendon Hills to buy some land! We have to go buy some houses that a builder was going to knock down anyway! By forcing the BOE back then to consider new and different ideas, CHMS was built. Rejecting those referendums did not mean the community was full of anti education philistines. It meant we wanted a better and more unique solution. And we got it.

That is exactly what happened Tuesday. We don't need more "education" or persuasion on how bad HMS is. We need more creative ideas as to how to fix it given the current realities in D181 and the state of Illinois.

This referendum only passed Cook County by a handful of votes. So let's dispense with the canard that Clarendon Hills and Monroe alone killed this school. This was a rushed, flawed, poorly thought out plan. The next one will be much better.

We appreciate your time and dedication to the community. We appreciate Mr. Woerner's service to D181 and the Village of Hinsdale. But this taxpayer believes we need more than just the same 25 or 30 folks that seem to get selected for every committee. We need new ideas and new thinking. The BOE and Dr. White would be wise to widely publish their requests for new citizen volunteers to help with the next go round.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Jay!

After the resounding defeat of the referendum, all options should be on the table.

It's too bad that "respected community members" still believe that all the electorate really needed is more education to support a ham-handed, bloated proposal. In reality, Mohammad has to come to the mountain, not the other way around.

After over 20 years, it's probably past time for respected community members to let some fresh blood participate in Facility Committees. The old guard is part of the problem at this point, not the solution.

Old Timer said...

Ann: I agree with 4:21 and 4:02. I have lived in Hinsdale for 27 years. I lived through all the HMS/CHMS referendums and know how hard people like you worked to win enough community support to end the overcrowding at HMS by building a second middle school. I have to say that all of the hostility you have shown in your comments over the last few weeks has made me wonder what has happened to you? You sound so angry and I don't think you even realize that you have lost credibility built over years as an upstanding community member. I would urge you to take a huge step back and realize that in order to pass a referendum on HMS in the future, people on both sides are going to have to work together. People on the Facilities Committee are going to have to accept the defeat and stop launching the same attacks you and others made before the election against "two" board member, Monroe parents, Clarendon Hills parents, readers of this blog, etc. If you can't stop because you have taken the current design so personally that you refuse to consider the positions of the 5300 residents who voted NO, then maybe you should step off the committee. You have ranted and raved challenging others to step up, almost as if you don't believe others will volunteer. I know from talking to some of my younger neighbors that there are people just waiting for the committee to open up to new members. If you want to stay on the committee then you are going to have to change your approach. Thank you.

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 so ......

Ann Mueller said...

Part 1: Sorry, 2:21, but I need an explanation of why you think my comments that your and my children are resilient...I didn't say resistant...is insensitive and offensive. I would not find resistant to be a valuable characteristic or quality in our children. If I'm not mistaken, I believe a current D86/D181 parent information speaker actually spoke on the value of students being resilient. Please, in detail, explain to me why facing less than 100% favorable conditions in life...challenging circumstances, doesn't develop coping skills and the ability to problem solve. I look back on some of the most horrific situations that my children had to face, mostly in D86..so look out, and now I see how my children grew and learned from those circumstances. Where those situations awful at the time, you bet. But, maybe they were the most horrible for me because I hated to see my girls struggle and be hurt. However, my girls worked through those situations and, they and I admit today, that they are truly more knowledgable, capable people for it.

Again, please explain to me why you think I was insensitive and offensive. I can assure you, I had absolutely no intention of being offensive or insensitive. As I assume, since you portray that you are knowledgeable about what is happening in D181, that you know about certain administrators leaving D181 at the end of this school year and the new Learning and SpEd administrators that will soon be coming to D181to rectify the "plague" that has infested D181 for the last eight years. Believe me, I agree with you totally that the social justice and math pilots were huge mistakes, along with several other mistakes in personnel elevations!!! The last eight years in D181 have been a nightmare. However, that does not excuse or eliminate the issues with the current HMS. The curricular, personnel and HMS issues are all separate challenges and it is a terrible shame that some D181 voters, as well as BOE members, couldn't recognize that. The curricular solution is now going to occur with the addition of a new competent, experienced administrator. All won't be fixed over night, but this new administrator knows what to do. And, Dr. White better leave her alone to fix the issues or he needs to go.

Now, I guess I can claim to be extremely offended by your comments 2:21. First of all, at no point ever did the Facilities Comm. ever make any assumption or statement that a new HMS was going to solve the "curricular and leadership problems plaguing D181." Where did you get that idea??? Please identify any and all statements in Facilities Comm. materials, referendum literature and/or D181 materials where is was stated that a new HMS would solve curricular and leadership issues plaguing D181. Please don't ignore my request. I want proof of your accusation.

As to Jay Wick's suggestion of investigating the Basic Life Principles property. This property had been inquired about previously back when the property that is now the new cancer center was investigated. If Jay and you will please remember, the current issues of the Basic Life establishment have only just come about very recently. In fact, it was former Hinsdale Chief of Police Brad Bloom who brought the current Basic Life issues to the attention of Fac. Comm. member Mike Woerner with the intention of giving a heads up about a possible opportunity with the property. However, if you will recall, or even better drive through that area, most of the property is "swamp land." In all probability, the only buildable property in that area has been built on and the rest isn't recommended to be built on. Or, it would take very extreme, and therefore COSTLY measures to build on this land. But, you and Jay Wick, along with the new Fac. Comm., can do all the investigating of this property that you want.

Ann Mueller said...

Having just read "Old Timer's" comments, I have to say it is a shame you don't feel comfortable identifying yourself. If you truly are an "Old Timer" and have participated in all the previous referendums, what harm can you or your children experience if you identify yourself. As mentioned before, it is so easy to "throw stones" at people and ideas if you remain anonymous behind a computer.

I just want to make it clear that what you have read on this blog that I have posted (with my name attached) was never intended as hostility. It is frustration! I think even you, after spending 21/2 years of your time, would be frustrated too with individuals questioning your hard work when most of them entered the process very late in the game and asked questions that had already been investigated and answered. It is very frustrating when all the investigation, under less than preferable circumstances and timing, has been done and community members, possibly well intended, finally check into the process and question everything people have worked on for 21/2 years. And, by the way, I'll remind everyone that no one got paid for their time. The Fac. Comm. did what they did for the benefit of the D181 students.

Do I really care if there are people now in the community who view me as "angry" and that I've lost "credibility." Again, your perception of my anger is genuine frustration and, as long as a feel that I'm acting in the best interest of children and their educations, I don't really care what people think of me. Possibly some of my comments could have been framed differently, but please get back to me when you have volunteered your time to the extent that the members of the old Fac. Comm. did, and let me know how you feel. I am very glad to hear that you know of young people in the community who wish to be on the Fac. Comm. now. Please forward their names immediately to the D181 Administration. My "ranting and raving" and volunteering are over. But, if my "ranting" and "raving" have instigated young community members to take action, then it was well worth it and I'm glad I did it.

Ann Mueller said...

4:32, I hope you too are going to be that "fresh blood" that you refer to. It will be very interesting to see what you come up with after your investigation of 21st century educational standards and options. Hope it isn't a "ham-handed, bloated proposal!" This "old guard" is more than happy to pass the baton to the young community members who need to be involved for their children's sake. The only reason Mike Woerner and I ever got involved in the first place was because there was no one in the administration who knew anything about all the previous referendums and building projects in D181. And, when a previous superintendent didn't replace the retired Building and Grounds administrator so she could balance her budget, our D181 buildings sat for five years with no one really in charge of them. Thank goodness when the functional assessment of the buildings was completed by Wight and Co., our buildings were in pretty good shape. A current ten year facilities plan has been completed and future capital improvement items have been identified. Things are in much better shape going forward. But, to think that the largest asset of D181(besides the teachers and our students) sat for five years with no supervision, this was totally irresponsible. Mike V. is now in charge and he is very capable and on top of things. I think that whoever participates in the new Fac. Comm. will end up being appreciative of the work the old Fac.Comm. did. I hope they express their appreciation publicly so the D181 community recognizes that the old Fac. Comm. weren't a bunch of idiots wasting their time.

I'll be very happy to become "the mountain" waiting for Mohammad to come to me. I can assure you I'll be very receptive and will support anything that is well thought out and will support children's education. I will not develop preconceived ideas of what is too high of a cost and what is extravagant. I will read through and analyse the facts and figures. I will support a rational, well developed plan, just as the "Vote Yes For HMS" plan was.

Ann Mueller said...

Last post for today. 4:21,once again, I hope you too will volunteer for the committee with your "new ideas and new thinking." Believe me, the current committee would have been happy to find another viable location for a new HMS. We looked! Just as in the past, there is no viable other location. Good luck with finding one. I hope you are successful. But, please remember, as all the posters indicated, there are potential financial issues down the road that D181 might be facing. And, then there is the D86 facilities needs that are coming up. I predict that, first of all, when the new Fac. Comm. does their research, they will find that every item that was part of the HMS plan recommended this time is a necessary 21st century request. And, they aren't going to find a new location for HMS. I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt I will be. Good Luck with it. It is a very worthy cause....children's education.

Old Timer said...

Ann: This is Old Timer. I am offended that the only way you'd believe me is if I post my name. After reading the vicious attacks from you and others against Vote No supporters, I'm not going to disclose my identify. Our paths have crossed and will no doubt cross again. Maybe one day, years from now, when the HMS issues are finally addressed, I will feel differently and tell you my name.

Ann Mueller said...

Sorry, I lied, this is my last post. 3/18, 12:20. I am happy to explain why I feel that Ms. Gaullt's background and experience is sufficient to fix the D181 curriculum mess. Sorry you are "underwhelmed," but, as previously pointed out, a PhD does not an excellent educator make! Have we not had total proof of this fact in D181 over the past 8 years!!!

In the old days of education, educators gained sufficient experience in the classroom as a teacher and obtained their masters in an area like reading, SpEd, or media resource. Then, after moving into another position like media resource person, reading specialist, or gifted teacher, an educator would get their Type 75 administrative degree and become an asst. principal and, finally, a principal. During this process, an educator would gain knowledge at every level along the way and would learn every aspect necessary to deliver best practice education. Finally, a qualified, experienced and "degreed" individual, usually with a PhD, would possibly be elevated to an assistant superintendent of learning, human resources, or SpEd position. Eventually after years of experience as a head of a department of learning or human resources, an educator would become a superintendent. Possibly, like we experienced with Mary Curley, an educator would even be an interim superintendent before becoming a permanent superintendent. That is the path an educator use to follow in order to have the knowledge and experience necessary to lead a high performing district like D181.

Ms. Gaullt has all the above mentioned experience and has already done what needs to be done in D181 in her old district. In addition, while being in charge of the Yorkville K-12 Department of Learning, she also had the responsibility of SpEd for the district up until this current year. Please, talk with any senior educator about Kelley's experience and they will be OVERWHELMED by her experience and knowledge base. Few, if any administrators today have the experience and knowledge base that Kelley has. She is an example of someone who has successfully done it all and knows what to do. Maybe while raising four children and working full time she didn't have the time to get a PhD yet. Well, I'd much rather have someone who knows what to do and has done it previously working for D181 than some of the worthless PhD people we have had in the past and maybe still have. Ms. Gaullt is a highly respected educator and she could have just waited out her retirement in the district where she is instead of taking on the challenges that D181 presents. Kelley knows all too well what challenges she will be facing in D181 because the principal at Madison, Kim Rutan, was a former colleague of Kelley's in Yorkville. I'm sure Kim has described, in detail, all the issues to be addressed in D181.

I hope this information is helpful. I hope it reassures you that Ms. Gaullt has the capacity to fix the curricular "hot mess" in D181.

Ann Mueller said...

No problem, Old Timer. It isn't that I don't believe you. I think I know who you are. I'd really like you to give examples of the "vicious attacks" from me and others toward the Vote No supporters. I can assure you that none of the Vote Yes people ever intended to be vicious or offend you.

Please take a moment and step into our shoes and imagine how we feel. We have spent 21/2 years, first dealing with all the craziness of Schuster and her company, and then we had to more or less start all over with White and his company. Then, White and Co. insisted that a stupid architectural competition be dragged out and he insists that no absolute priorities be given to the architects in order to "allow for creativity!" You have no idea the insanity that the we (an architect, engineers, educators, past BOE members who formed the Fac. Comm.) had to put up with. However, we kept at it and did a good job because it was for the kids. Believe me, we didn't sit on the Fac. Comm. and do the work we did just to be told we did a lousy job!!!

Anonymous said...

Ann, and others, my question is where was the BOE during all the drama with the past two supers? Where was the leadership? Where IS the leadership?

To the Five members of the current BOE that supported this disaster: Your job is NOT to SUPPORT THE SUPERINTENDENT. Your job is to MANAGE THE SUPERINTENDENT. The BOE is an OVERSIGHT ROLE. This is NOT the Senate and the President, co equal branches of government. Your job is to hire, direct, guide, and ultimately remove a non performing superintendent. Don't listen to the writers at The Hinsdalean that accuse the board of "micromanaging" because they ask tough questions and demand follow up.

Ann, I believe you and I am gratified that you think highly of the two new Asst. Supers. The BOE needs to be ACTIVELY INVOLVED in making sure they are fully supported by Dr. White and they have the tools necessary to succeed.

The BOE needs to tell Dr. White this week that his contract will not be renewed. The lack of leadership on HMS plus the disaster of a curriculum is more than cause enough. We should start the search NOW for a new Super to start in 2017 when Dr. White is through. Under no circumstances should Dr. White be given one penny of severance. If Dr. White does not support this process or his new hires in any way, he should be immediately be terminated for cause and escorted out. If Dr. White had any class he would have resigned Wednesday morning. This referendum was a giant vote of NO CONFIDENCE by the community of his tenure.

We have had 3 terrible supers in a row. The last decent super was Dr. Mary Curley and she was just slightly above average. She was paid over $300M her last couple of years in order to spike her pension. I guess she is enjoying pina coladas in Phoenix or somewhere. Of course between each super there is a year of drifting as we hire a temporary superintendent and nothing gets done.

This BOE has to get this one right. There are other affluent, educated demanding districts in Illinois that have no where near the drama we have had.

Expecting competence from a Superintendent with a $200 thousand plus total compensation package is not anti education, anti child. Expecting a budget to be followed with the largest single expenditure D181 has ever made is not anti education, anti child. I am very tired of the Yes for HMS crowd pitting Hinsdale against Clarendon Hills, taxpayers against parents, and us vs them.

The BOE has a lot of work to do. Please show up for meetings, support your village caucus and volunteer for committees as your time and talents permit. The status quo is simply not acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Ann, if you feel that the current HMS has succeeded in making our children so resilient -it was corrected from resistant under the post- then why in the world are you denying future generations of Hinsdale children the chance to also learn resilience? If you truly believed this, then why are you spoiling future students with $65-90milluon of cutting edge, best standards perfection? This will give both former generations of HMS and current CHMS students such a step up in life, that you would think that the FC could have thought to leave out at least SOME of the bells and whistles in order to protect their resilience.

Seriously, you are taking out of both sides of your mouth. In one breath, you say you think an imperfect HMS builds strength of character, but in the next, you berate anyone who does not support a $65 million new school in the middle of downtown. The plan the FC came up with was not good enough to convince people. In spite of the gobs of biased surveys and misinformation spread by the Hinsdalean and the Yes HMS committee, not enough people were tricked into voting Yes. This Faciltiies committee has wasted far too much of our BOE's time, our resources, and administrative work hours on this poorly conceived project. As the previous poster stated, it's time for the district and BOE to move FORWARD and immediately begin addressing and monitoring the supposed improvements that they are working on. At this point, this concerns everyone MORE than re-hashing the same old overpriced referendum foisted on us these last few months. Time for the majority of the BOE to step up to the purpose we voted them in - to make our children's educations, not structural environment, the best.