Monday, April 18, 2016

D181 Not in Top 100 of Recent National Public School District Ranking

2016 Best School Districts - Niche 
D181 is not on list of top 100 school districts. D86 is.

Sound Off!


Anonymous said...

I am not completely sure what this means. Butler is also not on this list. New Trier is on the list, but the Winnetka school system is not. This seems to be a list of high schools. Bear in mind, Illinois is the only state with all these units of government, like townships and mosquito districts. In most places, the elementary, middle, and high schools have one school board and one superintendent. Wouldn't that be nice?

I am more concerned by the Illinois rankings that show over time that D181 schools have slipped. The past 3 superintendents(including the incumbent) have been very weak. The people they have hired have been weak for the most part. Weak administrators go for fads and power point presentations instead of proven methods of achievement.

I am encouraged that we are showing some folks the door. The two recent hires ( I think they are assistant supers )seem well regarded.

BOE, getting the right senior staff is job 1. Next is the curriculum and differentiated learning.

Anonymous said...

Parents, If you would have gone deeper into this you would have seen that D181 wasn't included in the ranking. Each of our schools are rated A or A-. No need for the drama here. I'm surprised you didn't look further into this before posting it.

jay_wick said...

I have little use for ranking from third parties like "niche" which seems utterly unaware of how schools in Illinois are organized. The firm seems to be interested in giving real estate agents around the country SOMETHING "salesy" to say about pretty much every town in the country.

In contrast, for folks that still read the newspapers and appreciate the efforts that reporters make to bring awareness of the terrible financial conditions of Illinois there was an article that should be enlightening. With help of lawmakers, Illinois public schools now $20 billion in debt |Chicago Tribune April 16, 2016

Lest you think this something that only matters for financially distressed districts in run down areas, the reporters included COMPLETE DATA for all school districts in Illinois. Even suburban districts that are not on the "watch list" have amassed enormous burden of debt -- is possible for districts to get top recognition while piling up so much debt is in part due to the state's rating system. The state's analysis gives little weight to the long-term debt category, a decision that came after the state board got input on the financial rating system from people including financial advisers, lawyers and bond brokers.

In response to questions from the Tribune, the Illinois State Board of Education said it is "planning to review all indicators to ensure that the weights are appropriate."

How much debt has been racked up by our local schools?

Hinsdale CCSD 181 $67,615,000 45.2% of the State Debt allowed $149,725,698.3
Hinsdale Twp HSD 86 $18,400,000 5.6% of the State Debt allowed $327,854,412.5

For comparison -- Butler SD 53 $1,109,890 2.1% of the State Debt allowed $51,712,465.04

Anonymous said...

INCREDIBLE. Jay_Wick said all we need to know:

How much debt has been racked up by our local schools?

Hinsdale CCSD 181 $67,615,000 45.2% of the State Debt allowed $149,725,698.3 (WHAT ?!?!?! - 45.2% WHO allowed this?)
Hinsdale Twp HSD 86 $18,400,000 5.6% of the State Debt allowed $327,854,412.5

For comparison -- Butler SD 53 $1,109,890 2.1% of the State Debt allowed $51,712,465.04

ISBE has many indicators that explain how financially fit, or unfit, each school district is. Obviously, our district's financial leaders have no idea of responsible money management. They do however, know how to spend money that is not their own.
What a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, sounds like the perfect time to try to push thru a $65 million referendum! Let's get it on the November ballot!

Thankfully, a majority of folks in D181 understand the mess the current and former superintendents have made. We can't keep raising salaries/benefits and spending money like a bunch of drunken sailors.

Where's the accountability? Oh, that's right. The BOE let Gary Clarin "negotiate" the new teacher's contract when is wife is a teacher in the district.

We need to be confident of the superintendent in charge. I have no confidence in Don White.

Anonymous said...

Wholeheartedly and sadly agree with 3:50.

The Parents said...

1:05: The purpose was to generate discussion, which it has.

Anonymous said...

Got the following e-mail from Dr. White:

Survey and Engagement Events on HMS Facilities Planning

Dear D181 Families, Staff, and Key Communicators,

Where do we go from here? That is the question we are posing to District 181 residents, staff, and local business employees through a new online survey and two upcoming events as we contemplate the next steps in addressing the facility needs of Hinsdale Middle School. We know where we have been. The referendum question asked in the March General Primary Election - seeking authorization to sell up to $65 million in bonds to build a new HMS - was defeated 56% to 44%. We want to better understand why the referendum was not successful, and we are eager to learn what changes should be considered so that any future plan is one our community can support. To that end, together with the Board of Education, I invite the District 181 community to share your input.

The survey is open now through May 18 and can be accessed at or from the District website: >Our District > HMS Referendum. Meanwhile, our partner firm is completing calls to 500 residents to capture their feedback. We are also hosting a pair of engagement events later this month. These round-table sessions will be an opportunity to have a conversation about the long-term plan for HMS. Please join us May 24 at Prospect School (6:30pm) or May 26 at our Administration Center (9:30am). We are asking those interested in attending to please RSVP, either online at or by calling 630.861.4924.

Throughout the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to listen intently, welcome questions, and share information about this facilities work. Thank you for your continued partnership!


Anonymous said...

Part 2:

I think that it's unwise that the administration is still trying to push a new school, when pretty much the entire DOL will be new next school year. Get the new staff in and settled, and fix the hot mess that is the curriculum first before wasting more tax dollars on a new school. I believe we need to do something with the HMS building, but we have bigger fish to fry right now.

However, if we really must talk about next steps for HMS, here are my thoughts:
Before even looking to architects, decide how many classrooms we need, how big those classrooms should be, what extra places are needed (workrooms, datacenter, staff bathrooms, etc.), get a list of needs, prioritize wants, and set a firm budget. Some of the things posted on BoardDocs too often stated that the architects didn't know they needed to include in the design. Why the **** not?

Also, for somethings like an auditorium, can the district do a crowdfunding page? That way, if they get the money, they'd get it, and the taxpayers who don't want it don't have to pay for it. Also, make it big enough for the entire school, and able to hold all their non-athletic events (music concerts, musical, presentations, etc.). Plus, the district said that the village would pay for a multi-story parking garage. The district should see where else they can fund parts of the school besides bonds/property taxes. Also, regarding parking deck, maybe have it match the height of the school? The school design that went to referendum had 3 floors above grade, and one below. If the village is willing to pay for it, maybe have the parking structure be 3 floors above and 1 floor below grade? That would greatly increase the available parking for the stores around the current site. Plus, after the recoups its money from the parking structure, maybe the village could turn over control to the district and start paying a leasing fee?

Another thought I had is learn from the referendums that brought CHMS. Instead of one big school, maybe we should make 2 smaller schools. HMS currently has around 800 kids, CHMS has around 680, so about 1500 middle school students total. Why not have 3 middle schools of 500 each? That way, it'll be easier to know what's fair and parity.

I've talked to a bunch of people at both HMS & CHMS. Some of them say that when CHMS first opened, some parts like the gym and music rooms were already too small. If we build a new school, how do we go about that? On the one hand, if we make them proportionally sized to CHMS, that screws over the people who go to the new school. If we make the appropriately sized, that screws over CHMS students. So do we screw over everyone, or have as many people as good as possible, even if it's unequal?

Anonymous said...

I think 9:16 makes excellent points.

D181 has its hands way too full right now with new employees and our children's current needs. What is the district going to do now for these kids? What will next fall look like?

3 schools is a much better idea, especially since CHMS parents keep complaining that that middle school is already overcrowded. I hope the park district and the village take a good look at whether or not Veeck Park or the baseball fields could be a potential site for a new, 3rd middle school that could be build right away without the need for demolishing and rebuilding HMS.

It will be faster and easier to build a 3rd, smaller middle school on an empty lot - ANYWHERE- instead of creating a zoning nightmare in the middle of congested Downtown Hinsdale.

jay_wick said...

There are clearly some folks on the BOE who very much want to continue to push for a referendum. Part of me understands how they might see the current financial position of the district as mostly healthy. Coupled with the lack of desire from the BOE / facilities committee to pursue other solutions to deal with HMS would explain such a push. That said, a more careful reading of the budget the district has adopted shows numerous questionable assumptions, especially in regard to the current teacher's contract negotiations.

Other factors that might give one pause include the continuing deterioration of fiscal conditions for Illinois that should cause concerns for any property owners. Illinois' property taxes highest in nation |Chicago Statewide averages are now running at about 2.67% of market value, with the total sums collected exceeding revenues paid into the statewide income tax, which btw legislators are targeting for massive increases -- Skokie State Rep. Lou Lang: Let’s hike income taxes by 250 percent |North Cook

One cannot ignore the needs of our high school district, weighing a costly list of potential renovations for both Central and South -- Board to seek public input on $94 million list of projects

For those who may not remember the degree to which there was broader support throughout the district when essentially all the the elementary schools benefited from renovation or reconstruction I would also remind that the overall economic conditions of both Illinois and the whole nation was then much different. The last major building effort was completed about 10 years ago -- Economy Gained Strength In 2006
"The economy's in good shape."
Unemployment and inflation fell last year while wages and salaries rose at their quickest pace in five years, according to a series of recent government reports.

Such statements are sharply contrasted by more recent economic assessments -- U.S. Economy Barely Grew Last Quarter, Stoking Concerns About Momentum in 2016
The American economy finished the year on a flat note, much as it started 2015, stoking concern about its vulnerability in the months ahead to turmoil in China and elsewhere in the global economy. ...It could have been worse: Ahead of the report, a few economists on Wall Street predicted that the economy might have contracted last quarter, while others forecast no growth.
As it turned out, the slowdown was brought on by anemic sales of durable goods like cars and appliances, a weaker trade picture caused by the stronger dollar and falling business investment and shrinking inventories.

The thing is, there are certainly a handful of folks in the area that, either by virtue of their guaranteed-to-grow-forever state pensions or their immunity from overall economic trends through the uncommon success of their investments, probably can afford whatever new tax burdens are asked of them. That they also live alongside many more people that are acutely aware of the disturbing trend for taxes to escalate regardless of the promises of politicians does not bode well for even the most modestly scaled efforts to address the situation at HMS. Anything that can be done to remove uncertainty from the proposal / process is vital to garner more support from voters.