Monday, May 2, 2016

Comment of the Day: D181 Survey Now Available on the HMS Failed Referendum and Possible Future Referendum

We have just received the following 2 part comment which we are posting as the Comment of the Day.  We encourage all our readers to not only take the Survey, but also spread the word to others that they should take it and answer truthfully and candidly about whether they voted yes or no and then detail the reasons why.

We also encourage our readers to attend the Community Engagement meetings, although we are once again curious why it is required that people sign up to attend.  This requirement will not only put off some people, but discourage last minute attendance by residents who don't know ahead of time if their busy schedules will permit them to attend.

Part 2 of the submitted comment expresses one Voter's opinion on next step.  We are posting it here in order to get the discussion going, so as always, SOUND OFF!

"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!

May 2, 2016 at 8:54 AM
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?"
May 2, 2016 at 9:16 AM


Anonymous said...

Why are they calling only 500 people? Aren't there over 10,000 voters in our community? That's not even 1% of eligible voters! That's half a percentage point! And how much do you want to bet that it'll be the Vote Yes people who say the process was perfect?

Anonymous said...

Please go to the link and take the survey. It is only about 10 minutes long. I was actually pleasantly surprised. They ask the tough questions. They allow you to choose from a variety of responses and even provide your own.

Hopefully, the BOE will read the surveys and not just rely on the consultant's summary.

I have forgotten most of my statistics, but hopefully a sample size of 500 is enough for a district of our magnitude. Remember for President, they only sample around 1500 people nationally. They should be able to provide a margin of error along with the results.

The key will be if they truly randomly call all groups, including those with and without children in the schools, public school and private school parents, CHMS attendance area and HMS attendance area. The devil is in those details.

The Parents said...

We are posting a comment Jay Wick posted earlier on a different post, because it is relevant to this post as well.
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.
May 2, 2016 at 5:13 PM

Anonymous said...

10:56, it appears as if you have been taught D181 math. 500 is 5% of 10,000 and is statistically significant.

Anonymous said...

Re sample size - 500 could be statistically significant PROVIDED the sample fairly reflects the population. I was not a supporter of the referendum and did get the phone call, so there is hope.

But once the report of the survey is made public and if it looks suspect (and perhaps even if not), they should answer: what did they do to get a representative weighting (HMS vs CHMS areas, disclosed voting decision, children in school, etc. One miss is that they don't ask if children recent alumni (as they may have the most realistic view of what has been going on inside HMS for the past couple years). So do check to see if they gamed the sample to misrepresent the population.

Anonymous said...

Sample sizes are not considered statistically significant. Statistical tests; t-tests, ANOVA, et al., may be considered statistically significant or not. Samples need to be randomly completed and sample sizes need to adequate, possibly as small as 50. The random component of the sampling is what is critical.