Friday, March 4, 2016

Comment of the Day: The Hinsdalean's Editorial is Indefensible. Vote NO.

Moments ago, we received the following comment, in response to our last Comment of the Day.  We have decided to post it as a new Comment of the Day because we believe that it is a perfect rebuttal to the Hinsdalean's "indefensible" article encouraging voters to vote yes and not worry about the future.

As always, SOUND OFF!

Comment of the Day:

Anonymous said...
Thoughts of the Day--
I don't hold any ill will toward the yes HMS crowd, and as with many who plan to vote no, understand all the arguments for a new HMS, not just this one at this time. The Hinsdalean editorial is indefensible.

To begin with, the Hinsdalean fantasy that we don't know what will happen in the future is without any foundation. We know what will happen, we just don't know how. We are going to get clobbered. See today's article outlining the disparity between rich and poor districts in Illinois. The worst in the nation. At the end of the day, we will lose substantial monies. http://www.chicagotribune.com/ct-sta-kadner-sudies-st-0327-20150326-column.html. I guess the Hinsdalean is right, we don't know when. Yet, any logical analysis would say soon. The Illinois financial crisis has been going on for decades as the can is kicked down the road. Will it continue for another ten years without resolution, that seems unlikely. Will it continue for six months, that seems likely. Sometime between six months and ten years we will be clobbered by increased taxes or lost money. And no one is going to tap us on the shoulder and say, "it's coming", it will just come. The signs are sooner rather than later. Our universities are not being funded. CPS teachers are being furloughed. We don't have a budget. Chicago has raised property taxes and will raise them again. Chicago wants our money. The Courts have ordered various payments be made. Vendors are owed billions of dollars. Does this sound like a who knows scenario or more like sooner rather than later scenario. 

As for the idea that curriculum and capital expenditures are entirely "separate" and can be conceptually isolated, that is also indefensible. We have one pot of money, divided up. But the idea that they are separate goes beyond the idea that we are one community with one set of finite resources. Curriculum and capital expenditures also compete for the energy and talent of the administration. We are in the process of trying to fix the curriculum. A big shiny new building will be a lovely thing to work on, instead of digging into the muck of statistics, test results, and unhappy parents. 

Perhaps this provides some insight into why the administration is in love with the new building. It needs a win. A big shiny new win. It needs a legacy. Not only would the building be a big shiny new win, it would be a distraction. Just like a magician distracting the audience with one hand, while it hides the coins with the other, the building will be a positive focal point to distract people. How else to explain the mysterious and illegal release of data and burying the actual price of the building.

Well, I hear angry yesers, crying "what about the benefits." Ok, a new HMS would provide benefits. If you are going to spend 65 million dollars, you should have an upside. This is the cry for support for every government expenditure. Every government program that takes taxpayer money provides some benefit to someone. Couldn't we also provide more teachers, a dedicated language lab committed to teaching mandarin, subsidized travel to academic competition, one on one meetings with STEM professors from area universities, free memberships and travel to lifetime fitness. How about a greenhouse and agriculture lab on the existing bowl. That would be super cool. We could do a lot. The Yes crowd crowing about the benefits doesn't move me. How about this question. Is there anything we could do with 65 million dollars, other than build a new school, that would provide less actual educational benefit to the kids than a vanity project to fit in with downtown Hinsdale style? I am hard pressed to think of anything reasonable.  
The question is always, in a world of finite resources, compared to what? How is this building compared to a more utilitarian structure. How is this building compared to waiting, and focusing financial and administrative resources on existing, overdue, pressing curriculum reforms. How is this building compared to upcoming repairs? My understanding is that the trailers are 50,000 a year and that the building is safe and largely fixed. Is spending 65 million dollars now really the most likely way that all students can benefit academically. It sure seems like a vanity project for the administration and for those residents who love the idea of a fancy new school.

Finally, if I could get over all of that, I can't get over the process. In particular, the last minute 20 million dollar increase in price. How did that happen? In any other organization, it would be cause for self-reflection and apology. Here, the people who wonder about are portrayed as luddites and selfish. Wow. And, what about the price per square foot. All the material posted and circulated lacks any support for over 400 per square foot for a middle school. I looked and cannot find a similar price. And, the comparisons with Hubble have been shown to be baseless, without any serious rebuttal.

HMS is an odd looking building that may well require regular repairs. A new school might well be a worthwhile investment. Moving to 55th and Garfiled seems pointless--the kids benefit from being near downtown and not a busy intersection. The facilities committee worked hard, and must be chagrined to find its work under scrutiny. I don't blame any member that strongly defends its work--the emotional investment must be overwhelming any reason at this time. Yet, in the end, in light of all circumstances, the timing, the safety of the current building, the administration's desperate need for a win at all costs, the shaky financial data, and the state of our state, the answer has to be no.

103 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought Dr. White's use of district wide email last night to try to spin and refute the C4CH newsletter was shameful. And perhaps against election laws that state district employees cannot use district resources to promote a referendum. He never took to email to refute the many faulty facts put forth by the vote yes people (safety of building, cost of portables, and so forth). He never took to email to correct the true cost of Hubble after it was misstated in the press and the BOE meeting. He never took to email to correct misunderstandings surrounding the new math curriculum implementation. Why now? Our administration needs to focus on educating our children. The administration should know better after they crossed the line with the release of directory information to the vote yes people. The administration has an unfair advantage. They can email their side at will using taxpayer resources, but if the community wants to present another side the community needs to invest in costly publications - which the administration can then refute using taxpayer resources. Illinois politics at its worst.

Anonymous said...

Attend or listen to this coming Monday night's BOE meeting and you will experience a very welcomed "bright spot" in D181. We all need something to be happy/hopeful about right now! Hope the "naysayers" don't find something wrong with this, too!!!

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about 11:21??!! And the next boe meeting is March 14

Anonymous said...

Is the BOE withdrawing the referendum?

Did they rebid the school down to $40 million?

Or is Dr. White resigning?

Can't wait for a bright spot! Please tell us now.


I am not sure which side you are on or if you are being facetious. Parents that want a better option are not naysayers. Getting HMS done correctly and maintaining our district finances ultimately results in a much stronger district than spending wildly.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons that the administration and its allies constantly belittle this blog is that somewhat levels the playing field. The administration has emails lists, public meetings, control over the scheduling of the public meetings, board members who can deliver targeted messages to friends in the community, newsletters, and control over what information can or will be released. The blog links to public documents which might otherwise be hard to access, and then allows comments about the public information. Despite the repeated claims that the blog is unfair, the blog always allows the reader to check the source and thus separate opinion (the comments) from the fact (the link). What drives people crazy is not that they have to hear arguments against their position, it is that the other side also has a district wide method of distribution.

Anonymous said...

Dear 11:21

You seem not to have read the comment of the day. The fact that the proposed new school is a shiny new toy designed to distract is a reason to oppose it, not a reason to support it. Spending 65 million dollars to make yourself feel good is, respectfully, odd. If you need to feel better about yourself, to feel hopeful, volunteer to tutor unprivileged kids or build housing in central America and not count on driving past a fancy new school for a momentary emotional lift. Ah, sometimes people unintentionally reveal their real motivation.

Anonymous said...

I have been checking and approximately 3000 visitors PER DAY come to this site. Some people come back multiple times a week to see what is going on. But that is a big number. Just last year, the site hit 500,000 and now it is up to 624,000.

Thank you Parents for doing the hard work!

Anonymous said...

11:21: According to the district website, the next BOE meeting isn't until Monday, March 14. The agenda for that meeting won't be available on board docs until Saturday, March 12, so what meeting are you talking about, and how are YOU privy to what's on the agenda? Are you a BOE member or a D181 administrator?

Anonymous said...

12:12, on some level, I think you're right that a new school is a distraction, especially the mess that is the curriculum. However, as has been stated before, HMS needs a lot of work. I want the teachers to be able to focus on teaching, not on a leaky ceiling, or keep an eye on kids who may be working around the corner because of a poorly layout classroom. Something needs to be done at HMS whether it's renovation or a new school. Yet, it has to be well thought out at a reasonable price tag.

12:05, I don't think the administration has the intention nor the guile to try to misrepresent the referendum. Many of them are nice people, caring people. Just people who aren't good enough to be in the positions they're in. We need people who can communicate well, know how to do their jobs, properly prioritize jobs and needs and so forth. The administration doesn't appear to be able to do this. And I think it's not just one person, but the several. They mean well and try their best, but it's like the perfect storm. They have just the right set of character flaws that can bring down a district. Personally, I think they berate this blog not due to the facts presented, but how vitriolic discussions here can get. Not to belittle anyone's positions (many people here have very valid positions), but it comes off as a reality TV show or soap opera. Sometimes, I just want to get some popcorn and see how things unfold. Like I said, many valid positions, but the comments really come off as nasty and arrogant. That's a big problem with the internet and other non face -to- face contact: it's hard to properly understand people's intent. Personally, I try to always assume positive intent and try to politely, yet honestly, respond.

Anonymous said...

This comment of the day is excellent. It would really be nice to hear a substantive response from the Vote Yes supporters addressing the "what ifs" and seeing if they are even remotely concerned or if they all want to live their lives with blinders on.

Anonymous said...

I found it interesting watching the debate last evening that the republican candidates seem squarely of the opinion, that school systems such as Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit are the states problem. Well, when you look at Illinois and the tug of war between Madigan and his union overseers vs. Rauner and his stated desire to negotiate a budget, but with needed pension reform, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Hinsdale is going to get no sympathy for the way it mismanages money and contract negotiations. I find it sad that we have a structure that was built just 40 yrs ago that we don't want to renovate because some think it would be easier to just build a new school. Really would love and independent audit of all of this. I cannot get past the insanity of throwing away and asset with 50% life and the comical assertions that the slab is the only thing worth keeping. Really, where are the kids who are not in the trailers? Not one room is of use.

It will be interesting to watch the teachers union negotiate its next contract with some of these same people who are advocating a new school will be advocating continued salary increases for public sector employees whilst most in the private sector have been stagnated for 10yrs or more. Hinsdale has what I would call a very frothy economy. Sure there are some with multi-million dollar houses and extremely high incomes but there are 3 or 4 times that many that are no longer making what they did just 5 yrs ago. When are the tax and spend crowd going to get the message, people are getting fed up. As Ms Mayer states, if you don't vote, you have no one to blame but yourself. A large turnout at the voting booth - something that our present election conundrum almost insures - should make this pretty difficult to get a yes on but I don't think I would take that for granted. A no insures that these people will go back and sharpen their pencils.

Anonymous said...

Very well said, 7:06. Unless the HMS Yes group and The Foundation plan on funding this overpriced school themselves, they really should have come up with a budget and a plan that suits everyone, not just their own preferences.
In reference to something someone else said, no, you don't always get what you pay for. Toyotas and Hondas are consistently more reliable than the fancy German and Italian cars. They are also far less expensive and complicated to maintain. Right now, the only option provided to educate our students is comparable to a tricked out Range Rover bought full price at the dealership in Hinsdale. If I drive my own kids in a 3 year old minivan or SUV, and my own house is 20 years old and gets faithfully maintained and renovated every few years, why on earth would I choose to pay such excess for a public school? 40 years is not old for a school. I don't want to see my children in a pretty new school in a few years, but not have art and music. Nor do I want to hear that teacher positions had to be cut because soon, we will be asked to the their pensions along with their salaries. We need to go back to the drawing board.

Anonymous said...

Here is a question that I can't find the answer to, where are the 65,000,000 dollar, 1000 student, 400 per square foot middle schools? Are we the only ones in the country? I don't see any pictures of these unicorns on the Yes HMS page.

Anonymous said...

What you will see on the HMS Facebook page are recent pictures of trash cans in the gym collecting rain and melting snow. Why hasn't the administration fixed this? Is it because they refuse to put any more effort into maintaining HMS? The holes need to get fixed ASAP before more damage happens. Who is in charge of fixing hear leaks and when will it get done? Let me guess, they no one will pick up the phone to val a roofer until after March 15th. If they fix the leaks now, they will miss out on these types of photo opps.

Anonymous said...

6:06: I think I heard somewhere that the roof isn't even covered by the district's insurance anymore due it surpassing its operational lifetime. Can someone confirm?

Jill Quinones said...

4:46:

Check out this link to a 2015 publication on national school construction trends. Page 31 gives median building costs for Elementary, Middle & High Schools by Region. IL is Region 7. Median Middle School is $221.82 per square foot for 500 kids. More telling is the median HS is $232.68 for 1,000 kids. Think of how much more is in a HS than a middle school!

Page 25 shows nationwide only 22% of Middle Schools are putting in an auditorium and only 2.9% a track.

http://www.haddonfield.k12.nj.us/Attachments/AnnualSchoolConstructionReport2015.pdf

I realize this is just median - and there are as many above as below - but no Region is at $400 Median - even Region 1 which is the most expensive.

Anonymous said...

Jill.

Thanks for the comment. I did also review that material. What I cannot find is the 65 million, 400 square foot, 1000 student middle school. I know an effort was made to show that Hubble was close, but it was not. I remember the same issue arose with the curriculum several years ago. It sure seemed like we were the only district in the country with the bizarre learning for all plan. We were all told, trust the "experts" even when people said, over and over again, where is the data and we don't want to be the first, Learning for All 1.0. Now, years later, in turns out all the "experts" we're wrong, we were Learning for All 1.0.

With the YESHMS crowd, I hear all the benefits, but I want to see if the claim that this cost is the new normal is accurate. I have yet to see one example of a similar sized and priced school. Are we again the only one, falling down the "trust for experts" sinkhole? I mean, this is a big big country. There should be dozens of 65 million dollar, 400 square foot middle schools, if this proposal was anything other than a mismanaged disaster. Where are all the pretty pictures of these other schools?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Every time I read that construction report I get sickened as to how naive people in this town are. When you compare the upper quartile of schools in region 7 and the price per sq ft, I am disgusted. I review the budget and I look at the soft costs and I am further disgusted. Somehow, even when the district isn't purchasing land, we spend 6MM on it. This budget is fraught with fat that is just waiting to be picked off by the contractors, etc. School should cost no more than $ 40MM and that is if you believe nothing can be reused from the existing 40 yr old structure. Really is almost comical in a town where the streets require a truck that school district continues to consume so much and soon to be more. Reminds me of that Ross Perot comment about NAFTA. This should clearly be a no. The town of Hinsdale is asking the rest of the district to add millions to this project to satisfy its self- elevated image. Just sad.

Anonymous said...

I note that my request for the YESHMS crowd to show us the other thirty forty or fifty similar 65 million dollar, 400 a square foot schools, for 1000 students, as gone unmet. I know they are happy to weigh in on the relevant benefits of a brand new 65 million dollar structure versus the old structure, but they go silent when asked to show comparables. Again, to those YESHMS folks. Just post a list of the many schools with similar economics. Or, are we once again the Guinea pig with certain community members saying "trust the experts".

Ann Mueller said...

Jill, Thanks for the heads up on the 2014 National School Construction Trends info. I enjoyed reading it. It confirms all the information the Facilties Comm. reviewed.

Couple of things to point out. As graph C demonstrates, from 1995 to 2014, middle schools have added an additional 45 square feet of space per student. That would be about the time period since CHMS was built. As I'm sure Jill will concur, especially with her expertise in SpEd, more space has been added per student due to changes in the curriculum deliver and with the types of students serviced in the regular classroom. In a "push in model" of curriculum delivery, more students, of various needs, consistently stay in the classroom for servicing and there also are more adults in the classroom doing the educational delivery. In addition, small group work, a very popular mode of educational delivery in today's classrooms, requires additional space. Therefore, new schools today require more space per student and schools today must be constructed with more space in general than those 10-15 years ago(like CHMS.)

In addition, of course, the total number of students the school is being built to hold (capacity) is a key component. In 1995 terms (not by current standards,) CHMS was built for a capacity of 650 students, close to its current pupil population. Since CHMS currently has absolutely no space to expand, any and all flexibility for additional D181 middle school pupil growth must be factored into HMS, either by a larger building or additional temporary space, portables. In additional, in order to allow for proper scheduling of students ( a process that many people do NOT understand the nuances/challenges of), an 85% capacity of a building is the necessary capacity, not a larger one.

All the information that Jill has directed us to has been discussed at length by the Facilities Comm. in its analysis of the needs of D181 facilities. Additional information can be found in the Guide For Planning School Construction Projects in Minnesota. I point this report out because on page 46 of this report is Part 2.06 Renovate an Existing School or Build a New School. I recommend that everyone who reads this blog go to this section and read the criteria that need to be reviewed when making the determination of whether to renovate/add on to or build a new school. These criteria were examined by the Facilities Comm. prior to its recommendation to build a new HMS. I believe anyone who reviews these criteria will see why the committee recommended to build new, in addition to the fact that the cost of renovation and addition of HMS was immediately 60% of the cost of building new. I hope readers of this blog will actually admit to themselves after reading all of the above and the criteria suggested that the Facilities Comm. was/is not a bunch of idiots who just want a "shiny new building to drive past." We spent an enormous amount of time researching and digesting pertinent information that led to our decisions. It is very unfair and hurtful to be constantly criticized for all the time and effort that the Facilities Comm. put into its recommendations. However, we know that our efforts were on the behalf of the students of D181 and, therefore, worth the time and effort.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people are comparing the cost per square foot of various middle schools. I'm curious: are they comparing just the building costs or total cost of the schools (building costs, land purchases, soft costs, etc.)? I just want to make sure we're comparing apples to apples. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hubble middle school - our comp - if you look at news articles the TOTAL all in cost was $58 mil - the amount they went to referendum for as well. $8 mil was land - we don't need land. Also it is 30,000 square feet larger. I've been doing research and most of the prices I've seen of schools include the all in costs - they don't cherry pick like our admin is doing. Remember - whether it is a "soft cost" or not it is a cost attributable to this new school that we must pay for.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Mueller,

"Changes in curriculum delivery" for special education students? Are there new laws or cases that only Doc White, Schneider and the rest of the D181 administration are espousing of which the rest of us are not aware?

For a long time, the standard has been the "least restrictive environment" for special education. This means special education students should be educated with non-disabled peers, to the greatest extent appropriate.

Much as the parents of the advanced learners have realized, the parents of special education students have also recognized that D181's version of throwing everyone in 1 room isn't working. Neither the advanced learners nor the special education students are learning "appropriately".

Special education students do not all have the same needs. Pushing in three, four or more service providers in each classroom is distracting for every child in the classroom. Even more worrisome is that many of our grades have 3 sections at each school. D181 is not pushing in three or four different specialists in each class room at each grade level. It just isn't happening. That means many of these children are missing critical instruction in science, social studies and other academic areas.

D181 administrators may think they are gods and can do whatever they please but making of new standards will get them sued. Eventually enough special education parents will wise up and sue this school district.

Please do not try to justify the costs of the Taj Mahal as helpful or needed because of the special education students.

Anonymous said...

We are fortunate to have dedicated community members on the facilities committee. Thank you for your commitment.

Some of us wish the facilities committee members could transfer their dedication to a curriculum committee and get our schools back to where they were 10 years ago.

Parents are spending a lot of money on tutors to get their children to grade level in core subjects. Other parents have given up and simply removed their children from D181 schools. Both type of parents are spending thousands of dollars they didn't intend to spend when they moved to a D181 community.

Anonymous said...

This is to Ann. I have read many of your comments and they only confirm my worst fears. All of your comments seem to focus on your hurt feelings and how hard you worked. Given your commitment, I believe you worked hard but it can't be about your feelings. Instead, please direct us to examples of all the other 400 square foot, 65 million dollar middle schools. If this is the new normal, and this is a big country, you should have dozens of examples of similar schools and costs, a list should be at your fingertips. Instead, we are given just one example, which has been debunked. All anyone needs to do to sway me to vote yes is to show me that this is the new normal and that waiting would cost more. Despite thousands, if not tens of thousands of words spilled, all I see is that we are the guinea pig for a vanity project. Please don't take offense. It is only human that someone who worked hard on the project would be emotionally committed. It is obvious that leaving the echo chamber of other emotionally committed people is painful. For that I am sorry, but it doesn't change the facts.

And I remember the "trust the experts" on the Learning for all plan, fool me once.....

Anonymous said...

Pepper Construction provided price comparisons of current projects of similar scope. The new K-8 school for SD 29 Sunset Ridge is projected to cost $396/SF and 5 other projects were also shown with there costs escalated to 2017. The Hubble Middle School price comparison had the land cost included which was $7,400,000. Taking that cost out, which would be $39/SF would reduce the cost per SF to $402/SF using the Pepper Escalation factors. See the link below from the 12/14/15 BOE Presentation slide 46 for the Cost Comparison page for the data.

http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/A584MW0C48EB/$file/HMS%20BOE%20mtg%2012-14-15%20FINAL%20BK3%20-%20reduced%20size.pdf

Ann Mueller said...

10:47, I very aware of what the mandates and requirements are for servicing SpEd students. My daughter does education law and her practice is primarily special education work. I am very up to date on current practice.

I did not state in my comments that I, as an educator, am in favor of the D181 Learning for All approach of attempting to service all ability levels in the same classroom. This subject is not what I was addressing and is for another day....hopefully, very soon in D181. However, it is correct that over the last decade additional space in the regular classrooms has been the standard moved to for the reasons that I stated. Don't attempt to put words in my mouth and say that I am attempting to justify the cost of the HMS proposal due to special education students.

It is unfortunate that you are not aware of what constitutes a 21st century adequate middle school design that you would refer to the proposed HMS as a Taj Mahal.

12:59, I served on the interview committee for the Asst. Superintendent for Learning. I totally agree with you that there is a dramatic need for strong, knowledgable, experienced leadership in this area in D181. Over the course of the last 8 years, there has been no appropriate leadership in learning in D181 and many mistakes have been made. I can tell you there is hope on the horizon.

2:30, you are rude, disrespectful and unappreciative. I hope you are not teaching your children these negative behaviors. You don't hurt my feelings. You just make me very sad that people like you exist in our community. If you want the information that you have indicated, call Ken Surma at the Administration Building and he can give it to you. Do some work yourself and don't expect that someone who has spent an enormous amount of time for D181 is going to do anything for you. If the bloggers chose to not print my comment then they should not have printed your comments to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Ann, 230 here, I am sorry you are sad but you answered my question (by omission) by confirming that a) the primary focus is now your feelings and b) despite extensive work on the facilities committee you are unable to quickly and easily present a long list of 65 million dollar, 400 a square foot structures that constitute the new normal. Nobody has insulted you. In fact, virtually every comment has praised you, as I will again, for your commitment, knowledge intelligence and devotion. People can disagree with you without you lashing out and condemning such disagreement as a "negative behavior." Here, you seem to have lost all perspective. Most people against the referendum are against a vanity project, not against improving education for the school kids here.

Anonymous said...

I think Ann Mueller's response to 10:47 was inappropriate and only served to prove that 2:30's comment was spot on.

Anonymous said...

Another comparable and current Middle School Budget...North Shore SD112 has a new middle school plus other improvements on the ballet for next Tuesday. The largest component of their project is the new middle school. The MS is estimated at $117M and has 58 core classrooms compared to the HMS Option G design with 38 core classrooms. The total SF of the NSSD 112 middle school is 311,000 SF vs HMS Opt G at 160,500. The cost per SF of the NSSD 112 MS is $376/SF which does not include any cost for demolition of any existing schools or relocation of mobile classrooms and other unique temporary costs that HMS has which is a premium cost worth approximately $15 /SF. Add this premium to NSSD 112 MS and your at $391/SF. The larger size of NSSD 112 MS also helps to reduce the SF cost. The NSSD 112 MS also has a 1,000 seat auditorium.

For More info on the NSSD 112 MS go to ths web site:

http://www.112information.org/

For a copy of the project budget, go to this web site:

http://www.112information.org/cost-of-project.html

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the comparable that is provided is perhaps the most expensive school being contemplated locally and a) still is not over 400 a square foot and b) has created an uproar locally. See the facebook page and opinions such as "We are living in very volatile economic times and the financial situation in Illinois is bleak. We can expect millions of dollars in new taxes, including income taxes, to be imposed by the state in the near future. These will not be short-term increases, and, irrespective of any possible property tax freeze, our total taxes will still increase. We cannot ignore that other nondiscretionary expenses will continue to rise. During the 30-year life of the bond, D112 will certainly need additional revenue, and, irrespective of the “wealthy appearance” of the community, not everyone in D112 has deep pockets.

"The middle school campus concept sounds impressive, but it is not a “must have”. The market meltdown and housing crash of 2008 have had their lingering consequences. The recovery has been marginal for many. For a “wealthy” community, D112 has a large amount of vacant retail space. Let’s not forget that D112 tax increases will be added to the tax increases associated with the recent D113 bond. This means that owners of a moderately priced home can look forward to a five-figure property tax bill very soon. This is not acceptable.

Our elected officials, while well intentioned, need to provide a more financially realistic plan. Please join me in voting no on March 15"

Again, this school at HMS has not been portrayed as the upper end of the bracket, but the "new normal". If the best you can find is a taj mahal of a middle school that still is not close in cost and is hotly opposed, that again confirms my fears.

Even more interesting, Highland Park actually has figures which show millions and millions in deferred maintenance and operating costs, and so they can actually compare ongoing expensive expenditures to the cost of the bonds on the middle school. Here, after much grumbling and some mistaken (dishonest?) claims that the trailers cost 500,000 a year (as opposed to 50,000), we don't have those type of expenditures for HMS. Sure, some repairs, but not millions every year. In Highland Park, the assertion is that the new school (and closures of other facilities) will save between four and 4.5 million dollars a year in operating expenses. And so, Highland Park has a lower square foot cost, spent FOUR YEARS studying seven different configurations, and can point to four million in savings per year.

Here, nobody has suggested that we will save four million a year in operating expenses, we are not closing any schools, we did not study the project for four years (we rushed out the cost at the last minute), and we will still be paying more.

There really should be dozens and dozens of existing similar schools representing the new normal. Where are they?

Anonymous said...

2:42: when calculating cost per square foot for comparison purposes you don't first adjust the price using some questionable escalation factor and then calculate the cost per square foot. You calculate cost per square foot based on what the building actually cost. I can't believe you guys thought the c4ch newsletter was misleading!

Anonymous said...

I agree 7:48. We are looking for buildings where from day one they agreed to pay $400 square foot. And there should be many if this is the new norm not just the one off.

Yvonne Mayer said...

One week from today -- March 15 -- is election day. The key local issue on the ballot is D181's $65 million ($90 million with bond interest) referendum to build a new middle school -- HMS. Whether you are voting NO (as I am) or Yes, it is critical that you all cast a vote and get your spouses, college age children, friends, neighbors and relatives who are registered voters in D181 to also vote. Failure to vote is an abrogation of your responsibility to our district and if you fail to vote, you cannot complain about the outcome.

It is time to send a message to the D181 administration and BOE. A NO vote will send a message that the process, price tag and current proposed project is flawed, filled with millions of dollars in WANTS not NEEDS. In my opinion, until these two authorities take the time to fully vet all renovation/repair and rebuilding options in the broader context of the future fiscal health of the district, taxpayers should refuse to authorize expenditure of $90 million on one school.

If pension liabilities are shifted to D181, SPED funding cut or property taxes frozen by the Illinois legislature, D181 will not be able to maintain a balanced budget. Expenditures will far outpace revenues. Tough choices will have to be made. Programs and teachers levels may need to be cut. Class sizes may have to increase. OR voters may be asked to approve an Operational Referendum to increase tax revenues above those that can currently be collected under the Tax Cap laws public schools are subject to.

Taxpayers have a right to expect our elected officials to act in a fiscally responsible fashion and hold these hard conversations ahead of ANY referendum, let alone one that will cost taxpayers $90 million and do NOTHING to protect our existing teacher levels and academic program offerings. So on March 15, please join me in voting NO and sending that message to the D181 administration and BOE.

Anonymous said...

It is very disappointing that the CH people (as stated by some people on this blog) and many HMS residents are so unsupportive of a new HMS and are continuing to discount the referendum. HMS residents supported CH schools and we pay our taxes without complaining. Are people in this community stopping all their renovations and tear downs in this economy especially with the looming state shortfalls this blog has focused on? Probably not. Are you reducing the number of times you are going out, the amount of money you spend on material goods that are wants to save for the pending legislation? Probably not. However you are making it a big deal to spend some $35 more on a school that does not seem to be over the top but has a proposed auditorium and running track. Most of us aren't architects but we all seem to know better. How can any business operate with so many cooks in the kitchen? It seems they didn't pick a cook of your liking but do most shareholders get to pick the people who work in a company? Most of you are probably quite well off and highly educated. They have multiple people who design schools telling them not to waste our money on a renovation but all of you know better. Just because your kids went through it and did fine, doesn't mean a failing building should continue to exist with a few more band-aids. Failing doesn't mean it's not safe right now before people start down that track. Just because the auditorium is not palatable for some, it has become the reason to stop a whole project that benefits our children. Based on the most recent communication from the district, it is about a savings of $30-35/year on a $1 million dollar home, $45/year on a $1.5 million home (since many are in that range), if you eliminate the auditorium and running track. So over 10 years, we are arguing about $350 for a $1 million dollar home. This is to bring the building down to $60-$61 million dollars. To cut down the school more so that there is even more parity to CHMS and just because everyone here knows we can build a new school for $55 million, that would mean an additional $350 over 10 years. So people here are opposed to a new school, as proposed, to save $700-$800 over 10 years. I see people spending their money quite freely at various clubs, lunches, dinners and vacations and it is shocking that you are so strongly opposed to a better educational facility in your community. This chance is probably not going to come again since the people who support it now will not support it later. But thanks to this blog and its supporters the one opportunity to finally build a new HMS will have been squandered. It has taken over 10 years for this district to take a serious look at a long term solution for this building and people can't stop arguing over the cost per square foot. If parity is important why was everyone so opposed to the social justice educational model? I for one am happy that we have moved away from that model and hopefully they will use research that applies to our students. Shouldn't our buildings also reflect our community? Yes an auditorium is included since we will return to that but think about what your tax savings really will be. Good luck with your cause and if you come out winners next week, "congratulations" since you would have successfully allowed us to keep the current HMS in place with little hope to replace it in the future. People will lose interest and no one will step up. You will move out and would have saved your $1000 at the most for the next 10 years. I hope you have taken the time to drive by and go inside this building to see what you would have helped keep.

Anonymous said...

10:10 CHMS went to referendum 4 times before it was voted yes. No one gave up. Far from it. And most agree we have a better school for it. We have every right to ask that pencils be sharpened because this proposal is not fiscally sound and it is filled with bloat. Whenever the vote yes people get rebutted on their arguments and facts they revert back to calling people anti education or Anti new school. That is the sort of thing that will cause people to lose interest and be turned off from pursuing a new HMS

Anonymous said...

10:10 comments liike yours are causing people to lose interest in a new school . Food for thought. Last time I checked this is a democracy and we are being asked to vote on this 90 mil proposal. We have every right to question and your arrogant attitude is a huge turn off.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mrs. Mayer: we all need to go out and vote, regardless of which way we vote. It takes 15 minutes. Whether you're pro or anti-referendum, both sides have valid positions. While many, if not all, of us are taxpayers in the D181 community, which entitles us to critique the district, voting further legitimizes our opinions.

I also agree with 10:10, with all the high end houses, cars, and personal items, plus how much many of you seem to value education, I think we can sacrifice $45 a year for an auditorium. I don't consider that a Taj Mahal feature. I'd consider one of those water fall walls as a Taj Mahal feature, which I didn't see in any plans.

However, with the financial situation of Illinois in question, I don't know if we can afford a new school at the moment. Many of my friends who are into politics say it's not if cost-shifts, tax freezes, or sped cuts happen, but when. I don't want to risk having to lay off teachers and staff. I think the current HMS can stand a few more years until after things clear up.

Also, I looked at the designs of the new HMS. Some designs had quite a bit of "What the $%^& were they thinking?" ideas. Example: having the gym on a different floor than its locker rooms. As many have said, the process seems very flawed and looking at the numbers, not the practicality.

Just remember, this is not a black & white issue. It's not even black, white & shades of gray. It's a whole rainbow kind of thing. There's no clear right or wrong, or even better or worse options. There's a heck of a lot of different options that are not totally better or worse than any other. I think many of us agree, HMS needs serious work. But the current version is not correct. I'll be voting NO.

Anonymous said...

If the proposed plan for the new HMS is sound then it should be able to withstand the scrutiny and questioning of fellow taxpayers. If it fails, then it will fail on its own merits. If it fails we will go back to the drawing board like we always do. March 15 cannot get here fast enough. In the meantime please stop pitting parent against parent. It's divisive. Most people I have spoken to who do not have kids in D181 or who feed into CHMS support a new HMS, but they want a plan that is fiscally responsible and not bloated with wants.

Anonymous said...

The vote yes for HMS people just wrote on their Facebook page that all anti referendum posts will be deleted from the page. To level the playing field, perhaps the parents should stop posting pro referendum posts on this blog?

Anonymous said...

Many of us have spent thousands of extra dollars trying to get our children to grade level because this district has failed them.

Yes, this has effected our standard of living. We rarely eat out; we shop at Target & Walmart; we rarely travel. We don't get raises every year like the teachers and administrators. We work in real businesses.

We've worked hard our entire lives and we're spending our disposable income and some savings on tutors.

Anonymous said...

Aw geez, all is says on facebook is that they reserve the right to manage posted content. Lighten up, people.

Anonymous said...



I have yet to see any indication that the cost of this school is the new normal. Please show me the thirty forty or fifty similarly priced schools.

Oh, and by the way, South Carolina joined the parade of states holding that funding schools by property taxes is unconstitutional. The idea is that wealthy communities' kids are not entitled to materially better schools merely because their parents live on more expensive property. Ohio ruled that same way. So, one of the many variables that could clobber us in the future is a court decision that says, as a matter of Illinois constitutional law, or even federal constitutional law, we have way too much money. And, rest assured, when that case is filed, the YESHMS pro referendum page could be Exhibit A to the Complaint, showing that building a 65 million dollar school imposes a modest financial burden that local residents can afford by giving up a California Roll every other week.

Why in the world people don't think our community is not going to get clobbered financially soon is beyond me. It could be by the Courts, by legislation, or by another housing crash. Illinois is out of money.

The Parents said...

2:59 and 4:40: The good news is that this Blog is not going to restrict comments submitted to only one side of the HMS debate. We welcome both sides of the argument. On March 15, let the democratic process dictate the results. We are amused -- as well as disappointed -- however, by the suggestion that if the referendum fails it will be this blog's fault. That suggestion is actually quite insulting to the intelligence of any D181 taxpayers who decides ON THEIR OWN to vote NO. We don't hear the VOTE YES crew suggesting that if the referendum is passed, it will be thanks to them or the articles in the Hinsdalean, but perhaps they are implying that as well. We, however, certainly don't control anyones vote, except our own, and the same is true for all the other online and hard copy informational sites on the referendum. If our reader use any of these sites to gather information to help them decide how to vote, then that is terrific. But please respect the intelligence, and more importantly the RIGHTS of each of us to not only have our own opinions, but also to express those opinions publicly and then to act on them in the voting booth.

HMS Parent said...

Well said bloggers. I can certainly decide for myself how to vote and don't appreciate the suggestion that I'm only going to vote NO because of this blog. I do appreciate the information you have posted and the online debate both sides have had on your blog because it has helped me identify the issues and think about them, but I am an intelligent thinking person and no one is going to tell me how to vote. It's too bad the VOTE YES page and ITS supporters choose to blame you ahead of time for the possible failure of the referendum, rather than admit that the "fault" will lie with the messed up process and bloated project budget. Seems to me that they are anticipating the loss......Come March 16 we will all be put out of our misery and know the final outcome. If the referendum passes, then life will go on and our taxes will go up. Hopefully the state legislature will be so bogged down with infighting that they NEVER pass any of the legislation that will hurt our district, but I'm not holding my breath on that possibility. I fear -- and my fears are real -- that D181's loss of revenue and increased expenditures will lead to teacher firings, overcrowded classes, and cuts to programs. Then who will the VOTE YES people blame? If the referendum passes, life will also go on, and hopefully the BOE and Administration will have the candid discussion that people like Yvonne Mayer and others have said needs to take place -- a discussion where HMS's NEEDS will be addressed in the larger context of a discussion on how to protect and continue paying for the existing district's programs and teachers.

Jill Quinones said...

I want a new or remodeled school for the students of HMS. I want a school for them that is safe, functional, and allows teachers to deliver a quality curriculum to our students. This is the school that CHMS students attend. This is the school that our K-5 students attend in our 7 elementary buildings. The difficulty I am having with the $90 million after interest HMS new school proposal is this is NOT the school that is being proposed for HMS students.

Whether or not the price per square foot is the best we will ever get (and I leave that to the experts, although I would prefer not to rely on the opinion of the construction company who has been awarded the bid as there is a bit of conflict of interest there), it is NOT in the best economical interest of the taxpayer if the proposal is bloated, which I believe this one is.

I read and re-read everything Vote Yes and D181 puts out on this proposal. I know every piece was considered and discussed (although I would point out the reference in your reply to my comment about the auditorium is merely a fact sheet – it is not research. My research shows fewer than 20% of the middle schools in the nation have an auditorium), but the fact remains that this proposal is for a cutting edge “21st Century Learning” facility. “Because if we are building we would be remiss in not making it so now.”

The problem is none of the other District schools – virtually all of which were either built or remodeled in the 21st Century were built as “21st Century learning facilities.” They were built as safe, functional buildings that allow teachers to deliver a quality curriculum to our students. About as 21st Century as they get is an MPR, Wi-Fi, and computer labs. But wait, most of those buildings have repurposed those computer labs because they are already obsolete and as we know what is cutting edge in education today is obsolete tomorrow.

We know this in this District not only from the repurposing of computer labs, we know it because when that HMS building was built, open classrooms were cutting edge. Back before IDEA was the law, schools (not necessarily in D181) were building with lots of small group space for special education pullout classes and then inclusion became the law and more and more students were pushed back into the classroom requiring bigger regular general education classrooms.

My point being, we don’t need an auditorium, indoor elevated running track, and beautiful glass atrium (just to name a few things) to deliver a quality curriculum to our students. We prove that every day in our other 8 buildings. We do, however, need a quality curriculum and hopefully we are headed back in the right direction with that under the new Strategic Plan.

Show me a good solid school that is safe, functional, and allows teachers to deliver a quality curriculum to our students without the bells and whistles. Show me a school that is “lighthouse” for its curriculum and student achievement and not it bricks and mortar. Show me a building of needs, not wants, with a lower overall price tag and I will show you my Yes vote.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Has anybody noticed the amount of propaganda we are getting from Doc White and his mouthpiece, Bridget? He wasn't getting anywhere by filling our inboxes with wordy, emails that sound like an advertisement for HMS so he had Jennifer Burns add her name to an email.

We asked for transparency. We might need to define it for him. There's a big difference between dumping incomplete, self-serving emails on us and actually communicating something valuable.

Adding Jennifer's name doesn't make it legitimate in my opinion.

The Parents said...

6:07: After further consideration, we have decided to delete your post. We do so only because while we do not disagree with your opinions, we feel that it doesn't really address the merits of the HMS referendum debate and will only serve to further divide the community. We hope you understand. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of funny. I went to the "vote yes" website and was directed to this D181 link comparing the CHMS with the new HMS proposal.

I honestly wonder over there who is writing this stuff. If I am a CHMS parent, I am looking at this like WTH. First. On enrollment and size. HMS over the last five years has averaged 796 students. CHMS has averaged 649. HMS during that time provided 142 sq ft per student but CHMS, which is smaller, clearly more efficient, has done it with 136 sq ft per student. Now, not only do they want to state that they need approx 180 sq ft per student but they actually are designing it for an additional 100 students that don't exist making it roughly 202 sq ft per student. Can't these people understand that very few people are going to go along with giving one segment of students nearly twice as much as the other. Are they that obtuse. Seriously? White would be wise to buy some votes for the new facility by moving part of Monroe to the new school, reducing the clear overcrowding at CHMS ( I mean, hell, they should shift at least one hundred kids from CHMS to HMS just to get the sq ft / student even equitable). Has this dawned on any of them? When I read the first two bullets I was wondering as I was reading, the author can't be that unaware, he/she sounds as if he is trying to sell ice to Eskimos. CHMS already is the smaller school on a sq ft basis, now you are trying to get the CHMS crowd to agree to give the other kids in the district a facility that is about twice the size. I get that it is inefficient but in justifying it you are pretty much using arguments that make CHMS look like (to steal a phrase) "a third world school."

The other odd thing in the comparison is this outdoor space. I love how they have quantified the entire Prospect/CHMS and Park District campus - about 34 acres versus the 4.9 acres that HMS sits on. I mean, do they think the CHMS kids traverse that expanse? They don't use but about 4 acres of it. Why? Because that is pretty much all you need as proven by HMS every single day and witnessed when they are out at gym. The other stuff is just pretty green grass or adjacent fields. Would love to see a true utilization study of CHMS PE classes to see exactly what they are getting that HMS is not. I mean other than the CHMS kids having an inadequate gymnasium that is clearly too small. I mean, this is right in the write-up.

The fact is, 50% of the time the kids are inside for PE and they admit CHMS is getting the raw end of that deal, but somehow, this turned into a justification for a running track at HMS. This whole thing is absurd.

If you want to get a yes vote you need to make things equal. Probably need to move the boundary, and by getting things more equitable, get you probably would get some votes. As it sits now, it seems like a nice luxury for some of the people in the district at the expense of others.

I think there needs to be a no vote until this type of stuff is rectified.

Jill Quinones said...

3/8 at 10:10 asked: If parity is important why was everyone so opposed to the social justice educational model?

The Social Justice "model" is an educational initiative based on the premise that there are certain categories of students such as minority, low income, etc. who have historically been discriminated against under mainstream educational models that "track" students. They are under-identified in gifted programs, over-identified in special education and remedial programs, and often just not held to the same standards/expectations as their non-disadvantaged peers. There is, in fact, research to support this.

The problem is, there is NO research to support that this is/was a problem in D181 as to the disadvantaged students we do have, and the demographics in our district are such that there are not very many students who would be defined as disadvantaged students. Moreover D181 does not "track" students - it makes every effort to flexible ability group them and there is a difference in these models. There is NO research that it applies to non-disadvantage students being identified for gifted and talented programming. The initiative was skewed beyond recognition to be implemented in a way that was not supported by research and those that opposed it were labeled as people against social justice - what a joke!

It is very logically consistent to be against having that social justice initiative as the philosophy of education in D181, but yet wanting ALL middle school students to have access to similar facilities IF those facilities are NEEDED to adequately deliver the curriculum. If they are needed, ALL students NEED them. If they are just WANTED, then no students NEED them and taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for them. The District/schools that WANT these things should go find private donations to build them.

Ann Mueller said...

2:30, For you to say that the HMS proposal is a "vanity project" just shows how totally uninformed you are. You obviously have not read both the school standards Jill Q referenced nor the MN ones typically used. I hope no one thinks your comments are worth believing. Just as CHMS was not bloated with wants, this HMS plan isn't either. Please list some of the bloated wants you are referring to. Dedicated ELL space, dedicated speech space, workrooms for teachers, applied tech space, conference rooms for mandated private space for mediation of IEP's, cafeteria, or maybe reading specialist space??? Please inform me of the bloat???? For any "high performing district" like 112 or 181, to NOT add an auditorium would be so short sighted. I just can't believe that there are people that don't aspire to best practice. So disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Less than 20 percent of new schools last year had auditoriums. Just because you say it is best practices doesn't make it so.

Anonymous said...

11:40 interesting comment. You should note that of the 780 students at HMS now, about 240 of the or 30% +/- are being educated in temporary classrooms.

Anonymous said...

Here is #1 for "Bloat" - dedicated ELL (English Language Learner) space? How many ELL learners do we currently have, because last year, only 1% of students were classified as ELL at HMS, so that gives us a grand total of 7 or 8 children who are learning English in all of the 6th, 7th, & 8th grade. Of these children, how many of them speak NO english at all? I bet none. In fact, I would surmise that most of these children are quite fluent in English but were raised in bilingual homes. The district likes to claim that bilingual students are English Language Learners so they can portray themselves as being diverse. I know this because as a child, I was classified as ELL by the school, but I never received any assistance. I was lucky however, that my school, located in a low income area did provide me with gifted support.

As previous posts point out, it makes no sense to build rooms for children who we do not have.

I copied this off the most current Illinois State Report Card today:

Fast Facts About HINSDALE MIDDLE SCHOOL
Average Class Size 23
Total Enrollment 792
Teachers (FTE) 298
Low Income4% Low-Income
English Learners 1%
Student with Disabilities 11%
Instructional Expenditure Per Student $9,461
Operational Expenditure Per Student $16,674

Bloat #2 - Dedicated teacher work space? Uh, how about their desk in their classroom? They get 2 periods a day when they don't have students in it. If it is good enough for our children, and they get a computer and a phone, it is good enough for our teachers. Smart districts have a centrally located teacher work area with printers, teaching supplies, laminators, copy machines, etc. in the administrative center. Since we are already paying $150,000 each year to rent a massive space in Clarendon Hills for the administrators, the most logical location for teacher work space would be there. Would that be the most convenient place for all of the schools in D181, maybe not. But if asking teachers to drive less than a mile away after school or during their free to work at a place were all of their needs can be met will save us millions of dollars in the face of a terrible pension and state financial crisis, then it must be done.

Bloat #3 - Space for mediation of IEPS? This would be a conference room that only needs to fit about 10 people, maximum. It could be any classroom, or, better yet, in the administrative offices of the district. That way the special education administrator and superintendent might actually be forced to attend some of the special education meetings for their students.

Bloat #4 - Spending $150,000 each year on rent for the administration is absurd. Providing a place for the administrators to be accessible to teachers and their students is the most logical place for them, but apparently the administration and facilities committee didn't think of this. There is no reason why we should be paying $150,000/year in rent for these figureheads when the entire 6th grade class at HMS is housed in portables that only cost $21,000 each year!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Jill! You have briefly but excellently explained the concept behind the "social justice" educational approach and the reason why it in no way should have ever been implemented in D181.

I want to send Jill's post to Dr. Schuster! She needs to be reminded how she was responsible for the D181 Dept. Of Learning getting so messed up and, therefore, the entire curriculum of the district equally as messed up. Unfortunately, Dr. White only perpetuated this mistake by elevating Dr. Schneider to head the entire D181 Dept. of Learning.

My hope is after the March 14 BOE meeting that things will start moving in the correct direction for the first time in over eight years. All the students of D181 deserve the appropriate curriculum and delivery system. It is going to take some time to fix the situation. I genuinely hope the D181 community allows the responsible parties the opportunity to investigate our current situation by asking our teachers and administrators all the necessary questions, as well as parents and community members. Through extensive investigation of our circumstances, along with the proper educational knowledge and experience, D181's curriculum nightmare can come to an end and get on the right track. Please be supportive and have patience.

Anonymous said...

The administration should have been housed at the closet mobile home park. It could have saved us a lot of money. What they call "working" is not worthy of the office space they are renting in Clarendon Hills.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mrs. Mueller, a new HMS is not a vanity project. I suggest everyone go to the HMS Open house this Sunday from 1:00 - 3:00 and see HMS for yourself. You'll see that HMS has a lot of issues. Will it fall down or burst into flames in the next few years? I seriously doubt it. But it is not a "best practices" school. It has a poor layout, HVAC doesn't work well, there's poor soundproofing, among other issues.

I want a school where the teachers can focus on teaching, not whether they need to bring an extra sweater or fan in their room due to bad temperature control, or have to tell the teacher next door to quiet down, or have to peek around a corner in a room to see if a kid's on task. I want a school where it can last for a hundred years, but be flexible enough to change the interior layout as needed. I want a school that's easy to maintain, and doesn't need vast amounts of maintenance. If that means paying a bit more upfront to save a lot o time and money later, I'm okay with that. I feel many of you feel the same way. However, I feel that some people think a decent HVAC system is too much of a "Taj Mahal" feature, yet criticize when kids have to bring a jacket to class.

Anonymous said...

Below are the most pressing issues at CHMS: http://www.d181.org/data/files/gallery/ContentGallery/Facilities_Master_Plan__9.27.2015__reduced_size.pdf

Parent Drop off, visitor parking, Air temperature, instructional space, shared planning and technology.

"The building lacks a variety of learning settings with instructional areas being
primarily traditional classrooms and labs. Collaborative departments, such as
science and math, are not located in proximity of each other. The building lacks
adequate faculty planning and resource spaces.

Based upon an area analysis, the school building has a total of 66,249 net
usable square feet within the 88,146 total gross square feet reflecting a
building loss factor of 33% which is lower than the targeted loss factor of
approximately 35%. The existing school has 27 core academic teaching
stations resulting in a calculated capacity for the school of 675 students and
based upon 25 students per classroom. Therefore, the average area per
student for the building is calculated to be 131 square foot per student with a
recommended average area per student for a new middle school of 175 – 200
square foot per student.

To accommodate an increased capacity, to provide for additional program
spaces and to allow for each of the three grade levels to be housed entirely on
a single level, a building addition to the south was diagrammed.
Room Characteristics to Support Education Programs Each core classroom space has natural light through exterior windows. Artificial lighting was installed as part of the original building completed in 2000. Artificial lighting should be upgraded to allow for multiple lighting scenes for multiple learning settings. The building is equipped with an HVAC system designed to meet the heating and cooling needs of the school. To accomplish the Learning for All plan and to provide for collaborative learning, core classrooms should be renovated to offer differentiated instructional settings. Classrooms currently have VCT flooring which is easily maintained. In order to allow for multiple differentiated learning settings within a single classroom space, VCT flooring should be replaced with carpet tiles to offer better sound absorption. Existing acoustical ceiling tiles provide a standard noise reduction coefficient (NRC)rating of 0.55. In order to provide better acoustical absorption within the classroom, existing acoustical ceiling tiles should be replaced with high absorptive acoustical ceiling tiles with an NRC rating of at least 0.75.
Classroom furnishings should be replaced with new furnishings that are flexible
and collaborative-friendly to allow students and staff to more effectively engage
in project-based learning. Technology within classrooms should be improved to
provide more access opportunities with greater transmission speeds. In
addition, interactive video projectors and monitors should be installed to allow
for increased teaching flexibility and to allow for direct student access.
Technology in education continues to evolve as a teaching and learning tool. When used effectively, technology should support and help transform how we
interact, produce and seek personal growth and enjoyment. To achieve its goal
of providing the best tools, training, and infrastructure to support an
environment of excellence for all students, the District must develop a long term
technology approach that encompasses the needs of students, staff,
administrators and the community. District-wide, building-wide and classroom
technology infrastructure must be updated to accommodate increased use at
greater transmission speeds. Funding of technology should be considered an
on-going expense rather than a one-time expense."

Anonymous said...

8:47, you bring up quite a few good points. However, I have some issues:

I'd like to point out that HMS does NOT have 298 teachers on staff. I've heard HMS only has a little over 100 people on staff, and that includes the support staff like secretaries and aides.

With bloat #2, I can see where you're coming from. I could see the advantages of a single, centralized workspace at admin. However, I think they should have a small workroom for the one-off things. One main concern with a single, centralized workroom would be how big will it have to be? If every teacher in the district has to send their big jobs there, several dozen teachers could try to work there at the same time. Plus, while it may be only a mile or two from the school, remember middle school periods are only about 42 minutes long, so that might not be enough to copy something. After school might work, but, again, several dozen teachers could be there.

Bloat #3 & 4, with all the concerns about a new school, imagine how many complaints there'd be with building an administrative center. If we built an admin center with offices for the administrators, meeting rooms, a decent sized workroom to handle to workload of the entire district, plus any other district level thing, it would cost several millions of dollars, for something that doesn't directly impact our students.

Anonymous said...

I don't consider asking the teachers to bring a sweater to work against best practices. I also ask that parents also consider visiting McClure Middle School in Western Springs, Butler Middle School in Oak Brook, Herrick Middle School in Downer's, Gower Middle School, Bryan and Churchill mIddle schools in Elmhurst if they want to see what schools that children in neighboring upper middle class communities go to. Also, note how many of these schools don't have air-conditioning. Schools that meet all the structural qualifications of "best practices schools" do not make educate children better. But schools smaller than 500 students have been proven to be better. If you don't believe me, google it. Case in point - look at the highest ranking schools in Illinois. You will note that most of them have less than 500. So why are we building a big box school on a crowded lot in Downtown Hinsdale?

If parents do decide to check out any other middle schools in the area, they should note that these schools are significantly smaller than both CHMS and the proposed 900 student HMS. These schools range from 150 students to max, 700. Those districts have read the research that shows a significant correlation between smaller middle schools and higher educational and social emotional outcomes for their students. Why didn't our curriculum experts and facilities committee bother to look into this fact? Let me guess, the builders did not care to present this valuable information to them. The builders and architects will still make money, they could offer us a better deal by agreeing to remodel HMS for $10 million and build another, smaller middle school anywhere else for $35 million. I don't mind spending the money on students, but if I am, I want that money to be used wisely and effectively. Building a smaller school that promotes communication and a supportive environment where students don't feel lost and overwhelmed, and the principal knows kid's names is far more important to me than building a beautiful new 21st century monument to school architecture. Happy students and high scores go hand in hand, and that is what influences more smart families to move to Hinsdale.

Making CHMS less crowded and making HMS the same size, around 400-500 max, while building a new middle school in Burr Ridge, CH or Hinsdale that meets the basic, ADA requirements would better serve our children. Minimize the size of HMS while remodeling it, and find a cheap, flat location to build a new HMS that is not in the middle of Downtown Hinsdale.

The Parents said...

We want to remind our readers that we will not publish comments that make sweeping allegations without proof. We received a comment at 9:42 this morning that we have decided not to publish. Please consider resubmitting it in a modified form. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

10:18, this is 8:47. Not sure where you are getting your facts but I directly copied and pasted information from the Illinois Report Card website. Google Illinois Report Card, Hinsdale Middle School, and it will take you directly to this official information. If it is wrong, I suggest you contact the state because this is the information that the district provided to them. $1.5 million in savings could go directly to investing in a new school or updates and remodels.

I disagree with you about your criticisms of #3 and 4 bloat. $150,000 per year adds up to $1.5 million dollars in 10 years. This is significant, especially renting is not a wise investment of taxpayer money. When administrators, especially special educator and curricular administrators are in closer contact with teachers and students, all students and teachers benefit.

Anonymous said...

8:47, I got my information from Mr. Pena. I'll see if he can update the numbers.

As for building a new admin center, I totally agree, $150,000 adds up after a while. I totally agree, we need our own admin center, not just rent one. We'd probably start seeing a saving within 10 years compared to renting. What I meant was considering the outrage of $65 million + interest for a new HMS, there would be even more outrage for a building that doesn't directly impact the education. I'm not an architect, but a building that houses all the administration offices, meeting rooms, workrooms, etc., would probably cost over $10 million, and that doesn't include any land purchases.

I agree with you, but I think we'd need to get all the numbers and designs first.

Anonymous said...

I am having a good laugh over all this talk of best practices and special education. As every parent of a special education student should know, our special education children are not entitled to a Cadillac. They are only entitled to a Chevy. These children are not entitled to the best education possible. They are only entitled to an appropriate education which is often not the best education. This is the law.

From my perspective, too many of the district's special education children are not getting an appropriate education and it has nothing to do with building size or lack of dedicated IEP meeting space.

Anonymous said...

11:38, you are correct that he law may only "entitle" us to a "Chevy," but we're paying for a "Cadillac" education. People move here for the schools, driving up the property values, and paying high property taxes. Due to that, people expect District 181 to be top district in the state, if not country.

Anonymous said...

10:26 - Your Middle School size FACTS need to be checked. I suggest anyone that wants to learn the facts read this info that was put together by another SD. Access the research by this link:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/14IXsDdqBVmTyEttFXXKS9SKLbYTAHjJnkpSTdOMulQE/edit?usp=sharing



Anonymous said...

Based on the working budget posted on the district website, The total State Aid represents $2.5 million, or 4% of total revenue for the operating funds.

District 181 qualifies for the flat grant formula amount of $218 per average daily attendance of the best three months of attendance. Additionally, the District receives a supplemental poverty grant paid at $355 per eligible student. There are 211 students who qualify as low-income pupils. The District’s General State Aid budget is $780,000, representing 1.3% of the total operating fund revenues.

Restricted state aid is distributed to school districts throughout the state through categorical grants. Categorical funding is funded on a reimbursement basis and is designed to support specific programs such as Special Education and Transportation. Additional grant programs fund items such as bilingual education, construction grants and school meal reimbursements. Restricted state aid is provided to all school districts within the state regardless of local property wealth. The
District’s state categorical and grant budget is $1,774,747 representing 2.8% of the total Operating Fund revenues. Of this $1.495 million is for special education. 91% of revenue is from property taxes, 3% from other and 2% from federal aid.

We don't get that much state aid to begin with. Some but small amount in the grand scheme of things. Pension reform is unknown. I would like to see my tax dollars spent wisely but don't like to have teacher and program cuts thrown in my face to scare me into voting a certain way. It's making me second guess the statements around millions of dollars being spent on wants. Of course we have to pay for this building but wouldn't the people in the building delivering the education have the best knowledge of what's needed and is best for the students? Is there no trust in anyone in this district? Instead of kids sitting unsupervised outside classrooms to work on projects, isn't it better to have enough space inside the classroom? People can disagree but we're not the ones teaching and dealing with a variety of personalities and abilities at the middle school. Middle school is a challenging environment for kids and much more fast paced. I would want my special need child to have their needs addressed in an environment that is conducive to their learning instead of in a public place where there is no privacy. Everyone has a different perspective on wants and needs and I am going to form my own opinion and not rely on others opinions.

Anonymous said...

1:19, I agree that the teachers should have input on the design. They teach our children all day, everyday. They know what would help them teach as well as possible. However, the district should get input from other sources as well. The students, to some level, should have a say. They learn all day everyday there. They have a good idea what conditions they learn best in. Parents should have a stake, too. The district exists to serve them. We also have the taxpayers. They have to pay for it. This is what makes this process so difficult. Who gets to give input, and how much weight do their opinions get? Many HMS teachers say an auditorium would help the education. They can have additional speakers. Parents could possibly see and hear their kids perform better. The taxpayers could possibly rent it out. However, do these things make up for the cost? Can the staff easily use and maintain it? How do we decide whether to build it or not?

Yes, teachers should have input. But so should several other groups.

Anonymous said...

11:27, this is 8:47 again. I agree with you. I also agree that kids should get a Chevy, or a Ford over a Cadillac. Unfortunately, we have been paying for a Cadillac for way too long. Spending money on a new school is no guarantee that special education students will suddenly get more support. Or that children will be better prepared for high school. To the contrary, if all of our money starts going toward a new school and more unexpectedbuilsing expenses, staff cuts will have to be made. More likely, students will not qualify as easily for services and teachers will not have enough time to provide support. This will be especially true if the size of HMS grows. The number of specialists do not always increase with the number of students. That is part of the reason why students in smaller schools perform better than students in schools over 800 - 900. Kids in smaller schools get more attention from nurse, the principal, social worker, etc. Kids do not feel more secure in a bigger, newer school. If anyone could point out any evidence that proves larger, more expensively schools offer students a better education or higher scores, let's see it.

As far as funding goes, D181 qualifies for very little funding due to the small amount of low income and ELL students. With the budget crisis in Illinois, there is very little chance that our district wild continue to qualify for grants any more. As others have pointed out, it is not a matter of if this will happen, but when.

It is very sad, but trust no longer exists in this district. Just like trust no longer exists in Illinois politics, the district is reaping what it has sown. This is directly due to a lack of transparency and an absence of verifiable evidence to support what the administration and some teachers tell us. I really wish that the facilities committee would just try to compromise a bt more to meet the financial constraints that are facing the state today. We don't need new furniture. Nor do we need an auditorium. Yes, it would be nice, but new furniture and an auditorium do not make children learn better.



Anonymous said...

The research that someone provided in a link was provided by an unrecognized Assocication of Middle Schools. The research that it referred to focused mainly on classroom size, not school size. I am pasting parts of various studies that refer specifically to the size of schools and data that supports than schools under 900 are better:
1) Kenneth R. Stevenson
University of South Carolina April 2006
Introduction
As many researchers and writers have pointed out, until relatively recently the trend across the country has been to create larger schools through consolidation and restructuring (Cotton, 1996, Howley, 1997). Historically, larger schools have been advertised as providing a more comprehensive curriculum than possible in smaller schools, while reducing per pupil operating costs (Conant, 1956; Cubberly, 1922). As a result, during the past seventy-five years in the United States the number of school buildings has decreased from almost 250,000 to approximately 95,000 (Kennedy, 2003). At the same time the K-12 public school enrollment has risen from about 28,000,000 students to over 53,000,000.
However, a growing body of evidence has accumulated during the past fifteen years that raises significant questions about if larger schools provide better academic outcomes and whether, in fact, when all factors are considered, they are less expensive to operate. After an in depth analysis of previous school size research, Cotton (1996, 2001) concluded that smaller schools produce better academic results and provide a better school climate. Raywid (1999) has further pointed out that studies indicate smaller schools allow more opportunities for students to be involved in co-curricular activities, and offer more personalization and individual attention than larger schools. And, Howley (1996), based on a combination of his own research findings and review of other work on school size, has raised doubt about the cost effectiveness of larger schools. He argues that, though it first appears that larger schools are more cost-effective to operate, if the dropout/graduation rates are taken into consideration, smaller schools actually are more cost efficient........

This is a recent 62 page report that should be read by the facilities Commitee and parents:
2)Final School Size Study Report: Impact of Smaller Schools. Prepared for
Maryland State Department of Education
By Cheryl Humann, Humann Consulting,
June 30, 2015
Final School Size Study Report: Impact of Smaller Schools
The Maryland General Assembly enacted Chapter 288, Acts of 2002 – the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act, which established new primary state education aid formulas based on adequacy cost studies using the professional judgment and successful schools methods and other education finance analyses that were conducted in 2000 and 2001 under the purview of the Commission on Education Finance...

...The current study examines the impacts of school size on student achievement and school operating costs; examines the relationship between school size and school climate; examines the relationship between school size and extracurricular participation; presents a review of factors influencing school size; proposes alternative methods for creating smaller learning environments; and discusses the potential impact of smaller school guidelines on Maryland’s school construction funding programs. Finally, this report presents the research team’s recommendations regarding school size.

Anonymous said...

4:51 - clearly there are conflicting studies and opinions on this just like there is for many things we debate about. The fact is CCSD 181 has two MS now and the cost to operate 3 smaller ones would be significantly more $$$. Take a look at NSSD 112 and why they are moving to go from 3 MS to one larger one. I'm sure the community would have loved to have a operational tax increase on top of the cost of build two smaller schools.

Jill Quinones said...

8:47: FYI 298 is the number of FTE (full time equivalent teachers) in the entire District, NOT just HMs. For some reason all of the facts reported on the HMS state report card like average class size and number of students are for HMS, but FTE is for District - if you look closely on the report card you will see where it says this.

Totally agree with your other bloat comments.

Anonymous said...

11:40 First of all, when examining the enrollments of HMS and CHMS, each facilities' square footage per student and the 21st century square feet per student standards, let's acknowledge that the 2006 national median of sq. ft./ student was 144 sf (according to the Ohio Schools Facility Commission, 2010.)

CHMS was built for a functional capacity (the number of students a school's physical space can serve effectively) of 650. (Please remember that, in order for the building of CHMS to remain on time as scheduled....so they claimed, the D181 superintendent and BOE president at that time allowed 25 feet to be cut off the learning center without notifying any other BOE members or administrators. )Therefore, if the total sq. ft. for CHMS listed on the D181 website is correct at 88,200 sq.ft., as 11:40 stated, CHMS's sq ft./ students is 136. This is below the 2006 median of 144 sq. ft.

HMS is 103,400 sq. ft. (not including the portables) and the current student population is 786, though the Kasarda projections have the HMS population increasing to in the 900's by 2023-2024.. The current HMS sq. ft./student figure using the current 786 enrollment is 132 sq. ft., not 142 as 11:40 stated. Therefore, both the D181 middle schools are below the median national average of 2006!

As has been previously mentioned, over the course of the last decade, more square footage per student in middle schools has been highly recommended and become the current standard. With CHMS being totally land locked with absolutely no room for expansion, the only way more square footage per student can be achieved at CHMS is if students are withdrawn from CHMS and moved to HMS. Therefore, in addition to the additionally predicted students coming to HMS in the future, HMS is going to need even more square footage to accommodate the additional CHMS students if CHMS's sq. ft./student is going to be increased. That is why the new HMS is being design to accommodate more students and needs more total square feet. In the school construction business, no one would construct a building for the precisely, expected student population. Some flexibility must be built into the only D181 middle school building that can allow for it.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe 10:26 thinks our students should attend a middle school without air conditioning. Would that individual want to go to work in a building without air conditioning??? With the number of our students that have allergies, would suffer terribly in a school with out AC and probably not learn much, how can anyone post on this blog that a school in 2016 would be without AC.

10:26 also suggests a third D181 middle school should be built somewhere in CH, BR or Hinsdale. I ask you Where? There is no site available. Also, again, a third middle school would require an additional administration costing more money.

Anonymous said...

(The exclamation points in 6:16 make me think an angry facilities member is rearing her head again.) What this person is forgetting is that the current HMS has air conditioning. We don't need to spend millions on yet another air conditioning system.

The reason why no other locations are not mentioned is because no one wanted to look. It was the job of the facilities committee and a local, professional realtor to locate potential properties and solutions to where a third middle school could be located. Having Don White look at Google Earth and try to figure out where to put a school in a town that he has only started working in a couple years ago is not a good use of his time. (He said this is how he looked for property for schools.) Since an appraisal of the current HMS was never created, a realtor would have no idea about how much money the district had to purchase acreage for a new middle school anywhere. And let's not forget that no realtor was hired anyway.

As far as more administration, one more principal isn't going to cost all that much. Especially if it lessens the burdens of the other principals. HMS wouldn't need an assistant principal anymore. The whole point of people wanting smaller middle schools is that they have been proven to provide better educations and environments for students. If given the choice to spend $65 million on a massive school, OR, $65 million on a remodeled HMS, a less populated CHMS, AND a new, 500 student middle school anywhere else, I would gladly spend the money on something backed up by research and proven. Who wouldn't? What kind of person would chose to spend the same amount of money on a less effective model?

I don't care if there is more green space surrounding the school because grass doesn't make children smarter. Kids can walk in grass at home - that's why we moved to the suburbs. I do not care if there are not huge windows everywhere. To suggest that HMS doesn't have enough natural sunlight is ridiculous. Furthermore, there are no studies that prove that windows increase learning. Millions of people work and go to school in areas without windows. What does matter though, is professional development for teachers, qualified administrators who supervise staff, and, as pointed out above, schools smaller than 900. Middle school is a confusing place for kids straight out of elementary school. It is confusing enough for children trying to find their classes and their friends. If parents are truly concerned with making the quality of both HMS and CHMS better, not just bigger, they need to consider that remodeling HMS and building a 3rd middle school, anywhere, is an option that has not been explored at all. As of now, I am saving all of the referendum money for Hinsdale Central to expand and remodel. That district has their act together. The have been working on their plans for years but are still are not taking it to vote until they are confident that their plans are worthy to present to taxpayers.

Parents are not opposed to spending money, we just don't support wasting it - again.

Anonymous said...

Even though Ann and others keep attacking me as "rude" and not wanting the best for the children, my basic concerns are still not addresse at all. To everything that Ann and other say, that a new middle school would have benefits, I respond by saying compared to what? Resources are scarce and likely to go down. As I noted in a prior post, Highland Park can support its new middle school because it anticipates saving 4 to 4.5 million dollars PER YEAR by building the new school. Thus, in Highland Park, they can spend 400 a square foot, or something close to it because they can say if they don't, they will spend over four million dollars a year in operating costs. And, so they can say, with a straight face, that they will have MORE money to spend on students by building and consolidating.

Here, the so called savings have been either illusory (false claims that the trailers cost half a million dollars per year) or misleading (false claims that the building is unsafe).

Another claims is the time share claim, that we need BUY NOW or else. Well, where does this come from, this rush. It comes in part from the failure to timely and properly price the project, with a last minute change of tens of millions of dollars. Another is the claim that this is a "normal" price, the "new normal." Yet, despite the US being a huge country, the proponents can't develop a list of similar "new normal" projects.

Ok, so that leaves the maudlin cry of, "do it for the children" or your a bad person. Again, though, the question is one of relative benefits. Dumping 65 million dollars into one new building reduces financial and administrative resources for other projects, other schools, and the kids. I am worried about Illinois' financial situation and building a new fancy school in the middle of our state crisis.

Ok, so what are the benefits. Any peer reviewed studies showing benefits. Any similar projects showing gains in test scores or student satisfaction, no and no. We have expert assurances that this is "necessary" and how things must be done.

Any indication of whether the elementary schools can handle the additional projected population that apparently drives the need to a new larger school. Would we be better off also building more elementary schools.

And no, I am not willing to trust the experts, after the last half decade of bumbling.

I could flip this around. Why in the world would we spend the kids precious resources on a vanity project when we have better ways to spend community resources?

I am all for a new school. I might be for a 65 million dollar school. Yet, not this one and not now.

Anonymous said...

Not to belittle anyone's position, but I find it somewhat amusing the range of opinions. People like 10:26 and 7:40 saying that air conditioning and outside windows aren't important, while 6:16 and comments in other posts decry this, and kids having to wear jackets during class in the portables. I'm somewhat moderate: kids should have the self-discipline to study, even when it's not the most comfortable. However, we should provide a school where kids don't have to shiver during the winter or sweat profusely during May, June, August and September. I just hope people like 10:36 and 7:40 don't think that working in an underground bunker, or no building at all and just sitting in an empty field is okay. If it is, do they live in a house like that? I agree, the teachers mainly drive the education, not the environment. However, the environment does impact learning and work.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Who wouldn't want to move to Hinsdale, home of Blue Ribbon schools that have no windows, no green space and no air conditioning?! The comedy on this site is priceless! But by all means, your curriculum issues for advanced learners must be met.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 1:

The environment in the building does need to be considered but so does the overall financial future of D181.

HMS's environment has been considered to the tune of over $7 million in the last 8 years. I had two children who attended HMS and had classes in the "trailers" as some of you are incorrectly calling the mobile classrooms. The mobile classrooms were added to ease the overcrowding. My children actually loved those classrooms and so did the teachers they had who told them so. They never complained about being too cold or too hot in that part of the building. I had two other children who attended HMS before there was central air conditioning and were there the year after it was finally installed, costing taxpayers $5 million (with bonds that have still not been paid off). All four of my children were in HMS when the walls were infested with mold. We didn't know it then, and thankfully my children didn't suffer any health issues from it the way some teachers and students apparently did. As a taxpayer, I was grateful when the district finally uncovered the extent of the mold problem -- since they refused to investigate it properly while I served on the board -- and then fixed it. I was not happy with the price tag of over $2 million to strip out 80% of the drywall, an expense that wouldn't have been necessary if appropriate care of the building had taken place since 1976. But it was a necessary expense.

However, the reality now is that over $7 million has been spent on the building to improve its environment in the last 7 years. $7 million of hard earned taxpayer money. The magnitude of those expenditures cannot be ignored. Again, and I have said it over and over again, the D181 BOE has an obligation to be fiscally responsible and look out for the long term financial health of the entire district. Until the BOE has the tough discussion on how the district will handle the "what if's" (pension shifting, SPED funding cuts, property tax freezes) and publicly discusses what programs and teachers might need to be cut or how much additional tax revenue will need to be raised via an operational referendum to maintain existing programs and teacher levels, it is simply wrong to ask taxpayers to pay $90 million on one new school.

What has really surprised me in the course of following all the opinions posted on this blog, the Vote Yes Facebook Page and more importantly, on the D181 website, is that the future fiscal health of D181 has been ignored by those supporting a new HMS. They -- and I include Dr. White in this because he stated publicly to the press that he won't run a district based on "what if" -- have all put their blinders on and ignored the reality that Illinois is going bankrupt and taxpayers are going to be the ones burdened with dealing with the mess the corrupt and greedy politicians in Springfield and local municipalities have created.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 2:

Ignoring the realities -- not the what if's -- of the fiscal health of the state and local entities is shortsighted and ignorant. I won't support such ignorance by voting yes this time around. I expect more from Dr. White, the D181 administration and the five board members (not Gray or Giltner who have been acting in a fiscally responsible fashion) who rushed to support the $65 million referendum. On Monday night, I will attend the BOE meeting and call for a special meeting within 2 weeks of the election. I will ask the BOE to hold this meeting regardless of the referendum outcome. If the referendum fails, I expect them to hold a meeting immediately to address the next steps in addressing HMS's needs in the broader context of D181's fiscal future. If the referendum passes, I expect them to hold a meeting immediately to address the needs at the other 8 schools and begin discussing and disclosing for all taxpayers the real risks D181 is facing and how they plan to deal with D181's fiscal future. I am also going to ask the BOE to change the format of their agenda to always begin their future board meetings with the FINANCIAL reports. Those of you who have listened to the BOE meetings from the last year know that there hasn't been a real financial report given at the meetings since the new Asst. Superintendent of Business and Operations took over. The financial reports are always at the end of the meeting and since the meetings have run over four or five hours by the time they get to this agenda item, the majority of board members express how tired they are, state that they have reviewed the reports and have no questions (and that is in addition to the fact that until last month, the financial reports were not even up to date). It is time to address D181's financial future and stop delaying the discussion, stop delaying production of up to date financial reports. To wait one full month between the election and the next BOE meeting would be unconscionable. I hope the BOE agrees.

Anonymous said...

8:15am - Really snotty! Curriculum issues need to be met for all of our learners (advanced, special ed, grade level, ELL, etc.). Having read this blog for a long time, I know the focus hasn't been only on advanced learners.

Something definitely needs to be done with HMS, but not this proposed building. Too many expensive Wants! I'm very hopeful the referendum will not pass and we can go back to creating a practical, fiscally responsible plan.

And to the pro-HMS people bashing Monroe parents, where were all of you when our school rankings dropped to 109? I seem to recall a bunch of Oak parents showing up at a BOE meeting trying to make sure their students didn't lose any resources.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Mayer just said that a real financial report has not been given at the board meetings since the new Asst. Superintendent of Business and Operations took over. Ken Surma is the Asst Superintendent of Business and Operations.

Here's a refresher for blog readers. When Doc White took over, he created a new position of Asst. Superintendent of Information Services and Operations. Hinsdale Magazine pointed out that Doc White selected a former colleague for this position. The former colleague is Ken Surma.

John Munch, the Asst. Superintendent of Human Resources, also a former colleague of Doc White's, was hired by Doc White when Doc White came to this district.

Given the race to referendum, this is just too incestuous for my liking.

Anonymous said...

7:32 am is just making things up, as far as I can tell. The school does have air conditioning and I have been in and out of the school for years and its "climate" doesn't seem any different than most other buildings. And it does have green space as well. If the issue is the temperature, then let's spend some money, but not 65 million dollars. If you want a bocci ball complex in the bowl, put one in. But don't say you need to spend 65 million dollars because some people need a sweater. It seems as though as soon as one lie supporting the vanity building is debunked (500,000 a year on trailers), another one pops up (the building is unsafe) and now more rise to the top. If you have to present false facts to support a position, it says the merits are weak.

And yes, the building could use more light, but is that a reason to spend 65 million dollars. I don't get it. In the middle of the state's grave financial crisis, we are going to tear down a flawed but functional building because our kids need more natural light.

And making light of curriculum issues--as less important than having an emotional rush when the parking deck goes up--suggests that the motivation is not for the children, but for adult ego.


Overall, despite many opportunities, all I see is adult ego's driving a vanity project, snark against those who urge fiscal responsibility in a state that is crippled by the lack of adult supervision over finances, and no data or evidence that the cost will change much if we wait a year or three.

Anonymous said...

9:29, this is 7:32. Unfortunately, I'm not making things up. You're correct, a couple of people needing to wear a sweater does not necessitate building a $65 million school. However, earlier this winter, entire classes were asked to bring their winter jackets (not just sweaters) to class in the portables. This was resolved pretty quickly and inexpensively, fortunately. I believe your heart is in the right place, and that you're building your opinions on facts and your experiences at HMS. However, I feel that teachers, staff and students have a better idea what it's like in HMS as they work there all day, everyday. As history has shown, these people see and experience issues other people do not. As an example, Mr. Pena has stated that he and the building custodians have warned the administration repeatedly for years about the causes of the mold and "Water intrusion" problems. The administration took a quick check without finding anything. One such administrator is on record for saying that she had a sensitive nose and didn't detect mold. Then, the polar vortex happened, pipes leaked, and 20 years of mold had to get removed. Like I said, I think you mean well and are speaking from your personal experience. However, other people had very different experiences. You may not experience it, but how long and how often do you go to HMS? Probably not as much as the teachers and staff. You may not experience something, or only briefly as a minor inconvenience. However, with teachers and staff, it adds up. I hope you and everyone else goes to the HMS open house and take the tour of the school. That way, you could see what the staff goes through. I don't think we need a $65 million school. That being said, the current HMS is flawed but definitely functional.

Mrs. Mayer, you are spot on. The district needs to have a clean, safe, efficient environment, but needs to be financially conservative. As affluent as our community is, our money is not inexhaustible. The district really needs to determine what issues need to be fixed, which people can live with, and which aren't issues at all and just "Vanity items" as some people call them. Plus, the administration really needs to listen to the school staff better. The administration may make the decisions, but they don't have to deal with the consequences first hand. If we need to fix or replace something, do a good quality job. Get something that rarely, if ever, breaks down, yet is easily maintained and repaired if something does go wrong. I do not want an Apple style school or parts of school (like an HVAC system): well made, but if a small part goes wrong, the whole thing has to be replaced, with everything super expensive. That's not going to cut it. I'd rather pay $3000 upfront and $1 /year maintenance for 20 years than $1000 five times over the same time period.

Anonymous said...

To 7:32, your comments do not help the cause. It is absolutely true that the administration failed to find and address the issue of water intrusion despite clear warnings and complaints. Why would I then trust that same group of clowns to spend 65 MILLION dollars on short notice. I won't. I won't do it particularly when the price jumped up at the last minute. Trust the experts? The same experts who failed to respond to repeated concerns and now cite those concerns as a basis to spend even more money, even while ignoring other concerns that are repeatedly brought to their attention. All they want is an easy win with other people's money. And, if they get it, the other concerns will go to the back burner.

With regard to the issue of ongoing maintenance, again, that completely undercuts the need for a new school. If we had figures similar to Highland Park, where deferred maintenance is estimated to cost four to four.five million dollars per year, it might well make perfect sense to save those operating costs and build an new building.

Here, your primary concern, and I don't believe it is invalid, is that the building is uncomfortable for many on an ongoing basis. How much does that cost to fix? Environmental concerns are not a vanity item at all. Staff and teachers and students should be comfortable. And, I will say, when I initially understood the building would be in the range of 40 million dollars, I was leaning toward yes on it. But if we are going to spend 65 million, ninety million with interest, why can't we address the environmental issues now if that is the driver. I have seen no indication that any of those issues would cost anywhere near the price tag for this building. If the only way to make the building a uniform temperature is to build a brand new building, then perhaps we should. But, I have not seen data like that yet.

The Vanity issue is the price and appearance of the new building and the concern over the appearance of the old building.

And, if you are a staff member, I would suggest looking at the following issue. When our district is clobbered by the state or court rulings financially, and the new building is going up, wouldn't it be nice if we could have the decision back so that monies could go to other issues.

Anonymous said...

7:32 & 8:15: Re-read the comments. No one was advocating for NO windows, NO A/C or underground bunkers. You are making some overly exaggerated assumptions that are unfounded. This does not help HMS, the community, or our children. It only adds to the confusion and misinformation that the YES HMS crowd is pushing. If people want Gold Key awards for construction, enroll your children in private schools. Timothy Christian is a K-12 school in Elmhurst that is building a gorgeous addition. But it is privately funded. And, it's $10,000/ year to go there. Avery Coonley has tons of green space and charm, but it is $20,000/yr. I think the Lab School is $25,000/yr. That's a beautiful school. People who send their children to private schools put their money where their mouth is and pay for the things that are important to them or their religion. They don't expect other people to pay for it.

If these YES folks are so passionate about building a $65-90 million dollar school, they are free to donate their own money to build such a school. Those of us who do not feel this is necessary are not obligated to pay for the aesthetic and subjective characteristics that have bloated the price of this project. If every person who votes YES HMS donates $10,000 for each year that their children will attend middle school, a family with 3 kids would independently spend $90,000. If 150 YES HMS families funded donated this amount in the next week or so, we would immediately have $13,500,000 to spend on the school.
We know the quality of the schools boost our property values, but people move here for Hinsdale Central, not District 181. As long as D86 gets fixed, when we retire our house will sell. When we moved here, HMS probably had mold in it, but we still paid top dollar to live here. Other people will too. The mold is now gone, the roof doesn't leak, and there is air conditioning. The teachers are fine and the structure is functional for now. The curriculum and leadership, however, must improve. Over the last 5 years, we have been forced to spend $3,000 each year on tutoring, summer classes, and other after school activities. Had I not been forced to pay this money so long, or the administration and BOE ever took initiative to solve problems these Iast 5 years, we definitely would have been willing to spend an extra $500/year in taxes for the rest of our lives. But this had not happened. We don't get automatic pay raises. In fact, our income has gone down. If we could turn back time, my husband and I now know that we never would have moved to Hinsdale. We would have moved to Downers Grove, Oak Brook, Wheaton or Naperville. Or to Wisconsin. The cost of our house and our taxes would have also been significantly less. We would have had extra money to donate to schools, especially good ones.

As mentioned, HMS spent $5 million to put in an A/C years ago. Last year, they spent another $2 million. I hope people go look at other public schools in neighboring towns. There are many, many Blue Ribbon schools around, but none of them are brand new, architectural masterpieces. If the Yes HMS group is willing to start a Go Fund Me page to help defray the cost of making our Blue Ribbon Schools award winning monuments, the rest of the community would be thankful to you.

Anonymous said...

I am glad 7:32 wrote back in and clarified his or her point. Especially the part about the administration not being accountable to staff and parents. This is a very important point. It was bad enough that teachers were exposed to mold, but even worse that, unknowingly, parents sent their own CHILDREN to school in an unhealthy environment. Although still a terrible situation, at least the teachers were getting paid to be there. During that time, my husband and I were paying $30,000/yr in property taxes. Since 91% of each year's property tax bill went directly to D181, we were PAYING $27,300 each year to send our children to a mold infested school! Paying to send our kids there - meanwhile, the realtors bragged to us about how awesome the Blue Ribbon HMS was. The public had no idea that there was any problem with the 40 year old school when we came here. But now, we are being forced to pay for it.

I would be annoyed if my child was asked to put a jacket on once or twice a year because the heat didn't work, but I could live with it. Sometimes the furnace breaks. When HMS kids had to share CHMS last year for the mold to be abated, I was frustrated, but happy that the situation was being corrected. However, the thought of my child being exposed to mold on a daily basis for YEARS infuriates me. There simply was no excuse for that. At least some teachers knew there was a problem and could have looked for another job, or even taken allergy medicine. Parents were NEVER told, and were denied the choice of whether or not they wanted to pull their child out of that environment. Ironic that during that time, the district required that we pay our property taxes, student fees, and prove residency every year. How hypocritical.

Because teacher health was affected, the teacher's union should have sued the district. I have a feeling the district has insurance for this. If the union could sue, they could help fund the some of the repairs. Instead, parents are forced to pay millions to correct the problems that could have been easily fixed though proper maintenance. Remember, the federal government and state of IL do not fund HMS and D181 - our property taxes do. The $2million spent on mold abatement repairs last year could have been used to gut and remodel HMS, or gone towards a new school.

If the BOE do not hold our administrators responsible when things go wrong, nothing will ever improve. The way that the administration treated Mr. Pena when he alerted them of the problems was inexcusable. Did any teachers ever complain to ISBE or the ROE? I realize that teachers need their jobs, but their and our children's health was far more important. As soon as the problems were finally made public, the BOE sprung into action. The administration had the responsibility to inform the public and the BOE in a timely fashion, but they chose not to. This was abhorrent. If responsible parties are not held financially accountable, like the rest of us are, then nothing will ever change. There is no incentive for anyone to change. The inaction of certain BOE members during that time was inexcusable. I am glad to see that not all teachers think the $65 million plan for HMS is reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Part 1: I personally think there have been many ways for people to provide input over the past year. They added a 3rd floor and removed classrooms from above the gymnasium. There seems to be less excavation in the basement and the village is on board with financing a parking deck. To their credit they (architect, admin etc.) have left the cost as is until it can be re-validated. The amount of work that has been done is a lot more than what was done for any other school probably due to the challenges and cost of this project. I feel there is plenty of information and a lot of discussion that has taken place. At some point a line has to be drawn in the sand before moving forward and that is what this referendum seems to be. We are all adults and we have a right to vote how we see fit. The vote will show if people support the proposed solution. I think there has been more due diligence than has been shown in this district over the past 10+ years. It is quite interesting that this district did not have a master facility plan until last year. If prior superintendents had cared about the facilities, we would not be in the hole by $2 million dollars for fixing the water damage and mold at HMS. No one listened to the staff when they said it was getting too cold or that there was mold in the building. With regards to the pension, here is what the following article says from 1/26/16: http://watchdog.org/255007/illinois-pension-reform-deal/

"Speaking to reporters after his speech, Cullerton said he and Rauner had spoken Monday morning and smoothed out their differences on pension reform legislation, and that bill is now being drafted.The plan reportedly focuses on giving state employees a choice. For instance, an employee who wants to keep the 3 percent, compounded cost-of-living raises payable in retirement would have to accept a lower pensionable salary. On the other hand, the employee could take the higher salary while working but get smaller cost-of-living raises while in retirement.

Backers of the Cullerton plan say it could save Illinois — which has unfunded pension liabilities of more than $111 billion — about $1 billion annually.

However, even supporters acknowledge such a plan likely would face a court challenge if passed.

The Illinois Supreme Court last year threw out a 2013 pension reform effort, saying it violated the pension protection clause of the state constitution that says membership in a public pension system is a contractual relationship, “the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

Anonymous said...

Part 2: Same article: http://watchdog.org/255007/illinois-pension-reform-deal/
"Cullerton argues the state’s two-decade-old school funding formula doesn’t adequately address student need and therefore rewards prosperous school districts while penalizing those with higher levels of poverty.

Cullerton argued a fair rewrite of the funding formula would ultimately benefit Chicago but would not be giving it special treatment.

He said Chicago would be getting funding proportionate with its high percentage of low-income students in the same fashion as other challenged districts, such as East St. Louis or East Aurora.

And, he said, a single formula must give Chicago pension parity. That is, the state would pick up the same share of pension costs as it does for downstate districts.

Chicago, however, would lose block grants that it now qualifies for, Cullerton said.

“It’s not a special deal for Chicago; we’re eliminating the special deals,” he said.

“The amount of money we are talking about shifting is about $400 million into the poorer school districts out of about $8 billion,” he said. “It can be done in a fair way.”

The governor’s press office declined to comment on Cullerton’s remarks, but the GOP’s legislative leaders did offer emailed statements.

“Senate President Cullerton’s remarks today will strike fear in the hearts of families and schools across the state. He’s threatening the opening of schools next fall,” said Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont.

“The Democrat majority-controlled state government for more than ten years and ignored school funding reform — other than to create special deals for Chicago Public Schools,” she said. “The most recent proposal again advantaged Chicago at the expense of suburban school districts.”

Radogno said Senate Republicans “are willing to tackle school funding reform — but it’s not the only place in Illinois ripe for reform. We need to work together for school reform and the structural reforms that will help all of Illinois.”

Rep. Jim Durkin of Western Springs, leader of the House Republicans, said, “As a suburban legislator, I remain open to working with the Democrats to fix our archaic school funding formula.”

“At the same time, I hope this means Democratic leadership is now ready to work with us on other structural reforms to put Illinoisans back to work and to bring the budget impasse to a close,” Durkin said.

House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman did not a return a phone message seeking comment.

Illinois is in the seventh month of fiscal year 2016 without a budget.

Rauner complains Democrats sent him a spending plan $4 billion heavier in spending than estimated revenue.

Democrats complain Rauner and the GOP have been unwilling to work with them on a plan until the governor gets movement on his own agenda items, which Democrats do not consider directly related to the annual budget."
They don't seem to be moving forward on anything.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't think enough information has been provided, and I have looked at everything. The survey did not give a remodel option, nor did they say the school would cost $65 million.

Not sure what the previous post is trying to prove - if the Cullerton plan passes, in 100 years, the pension system will still be billions in debt! This is not a solution. If the Cullerton plan doesn't pass, and the state is still bankrupt and 111 billion in debt,this person still thinks their pension will be protected?
How? Unless Bernie Sanders wins and we become socialist, there is very little chance that the federal government will start paying these pensions. While I appreciate the legality of contracts, I personally did not approve that contract. No one in my family gets a pension or an automatic raise. Therefore, why should I have to start paying more taxes to help fund this mess? Teachers and Yes HMS people need to decide what'a more important to them - building an overpriced new school or continuing to give their kid's teachers yearly raises and pensions. Pick a side because you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Anonymous said...

The pension protection clause of the Illinois has flaws. While I believe it was originally designed in order to prevent the state from screwing over government workers, I feel that government workers (or at least their unions) are screwing over the state. As many have said, teachers are getting raises while private sector people are staying level, if not going down. As great as teachers are, I believe everyone needs to make sacrifices.

Something that frustrates me is that 1:49 payed $27,300 in property taxes. If 12:31 is correct with prices to the various private schools, 1:49 could send her kid(s) to private school and probably have abetter education and more input. This is ridiculous. It's even more so for people who don't have children in d181 students. They're paying for services that they don't get.

Anonymous said...

3:13, if Bernie wins, expect our taxes to skyrocket even more since everything will be "free".

Yvonne Mayer said...

Today the Vote Yes Facebook page deleted several comments I submitted in response to their post today that highlighted pro-referendum letters published in this week's Hinsdalean. Therefore, I am reposting my comments below:
The Vote Yes Page post stated: "Just read the letters in the Hinsdalean and cheers to the idea that we are one community that supports our students.......Trusted people who dedicated thousands of hours and took many, many things into consideration -- including current educational standards, future growth, etc., came up with THIS plan."

"THIS plan" of course is to build a $65 million ($90 million with interest) new HMS. My comments --that follow below -- that were deleted were intended to encourage debate, but I guess the VOTE YES administrators preferred to stifle an open, transparent discussion. As I've stated already, the potential negative impact on teachers and D181 programs that might result if pension liability is shifted from the State of Illinois back to individual school districts (and other proposed Illinois legislation that will impact revenues and expenditures in D181) was not considered in conjunction with determining the scope or price tag for the HMS project.

The following are my comments that were deleted:

Comment 1: "Four comments for and four against were published in the Hinsdalean. Both sides were represented but I wonder what the percentage was of YES comments versus NO comments. I know of at least 2 additional NO comments that were submitted, and were not published. Hope the Hinsdalean's publication represented the true split in the number of comments submitted."

Comment 2: "VOTE YES ADMINISTRATORS, I'd love to hear whether any of you have any concerns about the long term fiscal health of D181 or have any concerns about teachers being fired or programs cut if the Illinois legislature passes laws shifting their Pension liablity contribution (which last year alone was greater thanb $11.4 million for D181 and $14.9 million for D86) back to D181 and D86 in the future?"

Comment 3: "And just for your information, I pulled the pension amounts from the D86 and D181 2015 audit reports that were completed in June 2015. (Source: http://www.boarddocs.com/…/A5UTG97672…/$file/2015%20CAFR.pdf; http://hinsdale86.schoolwires.net/…/Hinsdale%20THSD%2086%20…)
Two days ago, I emailed Ken Surma, the Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Finance in D181 and asked him for this information. He couldn't provide it to me and instead sent me a long email telling me that he needed time to pull the answers to my questions. I'm still waiting, yet the Audit report's cover sheet shows his name as the person who "prepared it." My guess is that D181 doesn't want this information out there before Tuesday's election and delayed sending me a response that should have taken Surma five minutes to locate and include in his response."

Anonymous said...

Looks like D181's highly paid director of communications has been hard at work -- but only on the D181 referendum....
In the last 5 weeks, she has prepared 5 glossy weekly newsletters all dealing with the referendum and today all D181 postal patrons got a super shiny color glossy in the mail called "10 Facts on the HMS referendum." As I've read every word of print that Ms. McGuiggan has prepared on the referendum, I have repeatedly scratched my head and asked "Where are all the newsletters that deal with the D181 curriculum changes, board directive to return to tiered programing and an explanation of why the D181 website has now been stripped clean (THANK GOODNESS) of the Learning for All Plan references?" Look's like Ms. McGuiggan's only task has been to prepare fact sheets (ahem....) on the HMS referendum. Regardless of Tuesday's outcome, I think one thing is clear. If it passes, her job in D181 is done and the BOE should immediately terminate her position saving taxpayers almost $100,000 per year. If it fails, then she has failed and the BOE should immediately terminate her position saving taxpayers almost $100,000 per year. Looks like there will be a silver lining to the HMS referendum after all -- taxpayers will save nearly $100,000 that can be used to fund stuff needed at the other 8 schools.

Anonymous said...

8:03 - Only in your dreams......Remember, this is an administration whose sole focus is always hunkering down to protect its own....no way will White allow this termination, no matter how much sense it makes. But we can always dream, can't we?

Anonymous said...

Clearly this position is a WANT and not a NEED. It's not personal, but it's obvious it's just PR for the admin., not a community service. Eventually get rid of this position.

Anonymous said...

I just read the last comment in the Hinsdalean entitled "Overcrowding, bad design among reasons to support new HMS." Between the 3 of them, you would think that at least one would be able to provide some facts to substantiate any of their broad, exaggerated claims. For example: "Kids and teachers are in make-shift classroom". Well that's odd. What do they mean by "make-shift"? I looked it up on dictionary.com and found this:
makeshift /ˈmeɪkˌʃɪft/adjective, 1.serving as a temporary or expedient means, esp during an emergency (The only emergency I see is that no one is calling a roofer to repair the leaks in the gym. If they don't, this will destroy the wood floors and add to repair costs.) Word Origin and History for makeshift: Expandable, make-shift, 1560s, as a noun, "shifty person, rogue," (Hmm...now that sounds about right.) from make (v.) + shift (v.). Adjectival sense of "substitute" is first recorded 1680s. Cf. make-sport "a laughing stock" (1610s). Well it is just plain rude to make fun of the way that teachers have arranged their rooms. If these ladies want to pitch in and hire their decorators to help staff create a more esthetically pleasing environment, why don't they? It would make a great teacher gift. Classrooms are not always permanently assigned to teachers. They belong to the school. Also, teachers are not owed a "home base". That is ridiculous. I found the word origin fascinating though , because in the 1560s, it referred to a "shift person, rogue" and referenced "Making sport, laughing stock'". Well, that's why I am writing this post. Do these people like it when others make sport and ridicule their work effort? Probably not, but at least now they know what it feels like to be judged harshly and unfairly.
The claim that 6th graders spend most of their day "in trailers outside the school" is false. The portable classroom are ATTACHED to the structure of HMS with interior hallways. To claim that the classes are outside implies that children have to physically brave the elements to get to their classrooms. Simply not true. I am surprised that the HInsdalean did not already know this, considering the amount of time they claim to have spend researching HMS. Why aren't these people informed?
#3. "A new building will improve learning." Really? Do tell! Will it improve math scores or reading scores? What are they basing their claims on? Their years of research? I could go on, but I will limit my last criticism to the comment "The thoughtfully developed $65-million plan will provide a beautiful new school in the heart of Hinsdale that will stand the test of time." This is clearly an opinion. Personally, I find the location terrible. Downtowns are for businesses, commuters, and condos - not middle schools. A year to design a $90 million middle school for double the cost of the average middle school does not sound well thought out to me. Especially since no remodel was considered or priced out. It sounds quite rushed. if these people remodel their own homes, why are they so quick to ask the public to finance brand new schools? Probably because they won't be paying for new structures themselves.
Finally, what does "stand the test of time" mean, exactly? A season? Another 40 years? 100 years? Because in 10 years, the best practices that architects and builders refer to today will be completely different. How do we know that these same people won't want to update and refresh the building again? Sorry, but I found that letter to the editor to have massive shortcomings of its own. But I do like the idea of someone starting a GoFundMe page, though. I think it would be quite comical for the world to see how materialistic and shallow parents in Hinsdale are. Who else would have the nerve to ask to tear down a 40 year old IL public school in the midst of an economic recession and state budget crisis.

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised that the YES HMS group cut out Yvonne's comments. Just like the administration, that group only knows how to play dirty by stacking the odds in their favor. Is this their idea of what elections are for? To them, does democracy mean limit the options so people are tricked into supporting their own cause?

Anonymous said...

OK, 8:47 let's talk about all your "Bloat Issues" at HMS.

First of all, you may think that the current ELL (English Language Learners) student population at HMS is a very small number of HMS' pupil population. Well, you need to look at the ELL numbers at each of the elementary sites that feed into HMS. You'll see that the numbers are large and continuing to increase. Take a look at Elm School's ELL numbers. I know for a fact that Elm School services students from China who came to Elm after only being educated in China. These students have next to no English proficiency. In one fourth grade classroom at Elm last year, there were two students from China who had to use IPads to translate for them during the entire school day. 21st century schools have to include separate ELL classrooms to service these students.

Bloat #2: Teacher work space. 8:47, you obviously aren't and never were a teacher. If you were, you'd know the value of workrooms and also the value of them being located adjacent to the classroom area. Smart schools have the printers, teaching supplies, photo copiers and other teaching necessities as close to the teachers and their classrooms as possible for efficiency. In the late 80's in D181, there was a centralized teachers' work area housed at HMS that teachers in the district were expected to use. That is a ancient approach. And, those two periods that teachers are not teaching students are for individual class planning and grade level planning...not for jumping in their cars and driving somewhere in the district to prepare their classroom materials.

Bloat #3: Individual, private meeting space for IEP meetings and IEP mediations. 8:47, you need to become knowledgable about the requirements for IEP meetings, especially the individual, private meeting space required for IEP mediation situations. First of all these meetings can go on for a long period of time and involve a number of school personnel. So, it is very advantageous to hold the meetings at the school where the teachers and other school personnel are available and not have meetings a distance away at the Administration Center, as you suggested.

Bloat #4: Administrative Center. The D181 Administration originally was housed with the D86 Administration in the brick building at 55th and Grant. This building belonged to D86 and, therefore, when D86 needed additional space the D181 Administration had to vacate the building. Since this time, the D181 Administration has been an itinerant,renting space in KLM, renting space north of Ogden at 83 and now in CH. 8:47, if you had been engaged in this process from the start, you would have known that Administration space was originally included in the proposed new HMS building.The Administrative space was removed not only because of the cost it added, but also the space it absorbed that was needed for the middle school. There was additional concern that the most needed element, space for children's education, should come first and foremost above administrative space. D181 may be the only school district in the Chicagoland area that does not have a permanent central office building. Until the D181 community decides to purchase or build permanent Administrative space, the District will have to continue to rent space to house the Administration. Guess that's the cost of doing business.

So much for your bloats, 8:47.

Anonymous said...

Bloggers, did you also delete the "Bloat" comment at 8:47 p.m.? It's gone so I assume you did, but you did not refer to it in your latest comment chastising another poster for name calling. 8;47's comment was also awful so I am glad that you removed it and wish that it hadn't been posted at all. It is important that the blog ensure that it is redacting and addressing poor behavior on BOTH sides of this issues, not just the one you agree with. BTW, how would you know who posted the comment that you redacted as you referred to in your comment? Are the anonymous comments not truly anonymous to the administrators of this blog?

The Parents said...

8:57 - we have no idea who is posting anonymous comments.

Anonymous said...

8:57 a.m., what "name calling" ? I find it really odd that you do not feel that spending $150,000 each year on rent is not a waste of money. The district could have paid off a $1.5 million dollar building in only 10 years with the money that they are wasting on rent. 8:57 a.m., look at the above post on March 10, 10:33 p.m. to see an example of poor behavior. The magnanimous claim of being able to discern the education of anonymous people from the content of their posts is bizarre. This is an example of faulty thinking. I actually have over 25 years teaching experience, and not just in 1 or 2 schools in the same district. I attended Domains, IEP and 504 meetings hundreds of times. Luckily, we rarely had to go to mediation because staff were able to reach solutions without involving lawyers or mediators. We all have different experiences. If we listen with an open mind, we can all learn from the ways that other districts deal with their finances, not feel threatened by them. As many others have pointed out, wants and dreams are not the same as actual needs. Smart, responsible districts do not spend the maximum in the name of convenience. This is why the expenses of Western Spring's district is so much less than ours. This is amazing when you consider they have far more ELL students than D181 will ever have, and, their ranking is much higher than D181. When I taught in a large urban district 10 years ago, some teachers had to drive up to 8 miles away to get to the central work center for the district. But it was worth it because the facility housed every type of teaching supplies that a teacher could ever want. In the long run, this saves time for teachers! It was open early, late, on weekends and the summer, when, at some point, all teachers work. Binding machines were there, as were assistants who could immediately help us with the machines. We didn't have to stop and interrupt the school secretaries to ask for help. Another wonderful thing about large central workspaces is that it provided a central location for text books, teacher's editions, software, workbooks and guided reading books. This was wonderful for new teachers. Staff had access to maps, models of skeletons, and other resources from the entire district. When teachers know that they will be able to get all of their work done more efficiently in a well supplied and staffed facility, it encourages them to stay organized and plan ahead. Asking teachers to drive 1 mile, once a week is not too much to ask, so please, do not attack me for making a suggestion based on something that has worked successfully in other places for 15 years. I am no accountant, but if we don't adhering to a budget, our district will fail. If we want a new school, we will need to make cuts in other areas. Taxpayers are tired of always bailing out the administration's poor choices. Now that we are facing higher taxes to help pay for CPS's and the state's poor decisions, residents are more concerned than ever. If every one of us called out government waste when we saw it, Illinois would not be bankrupt and our district would have had a 3rd junior high 10 years ago.