As always, SOUND OFF!
Comment 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.
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.