We urge our readers to do 3 things:
1. Read the following documents on Board Docs (click to open links): 1/9/18 Technology Scope and Budget Memo written by Owners Representative Kerry Leonard and 1/16/18 HMS Project Technology Budget Estimates.
2. Listen to the Podcast starting at Counter 1:18:11: Click to Open 1/16/18 Meeting Podcast.
3. Write letters to Dr. White and the Board of Education DEMANDING accountability for this latest fiasco.
The following is a very brief summary of this latest mess. We are disgusted by this information, but even more disgusted to see that the local paper so many residents rely upon for "news" -- the Hinsdalean -- didn't publish a story exposing this (at least not as of the writing of this post). We have decided that it is not our job to spell out all the details for the entire D181 community. Rather, we are only going to provide a framework and links to allow our readers to gather the facts on their own. If our readers choose not to do so, then so be it.
What we learned is that over $530,000 in NEEDED technology was NOT budgeted into the $53 million HMS referendum. This technology includes $180,000 needed to move the DISTRICT INTERNET HUB (our words to describe the Fiber Optic Cabling that runs from HMS to all 9 schools) from the OLD HMS to the NEW HMS. In addition, $285,000 is not included in the budget for Network Equipment and Installation and approximately another $60,000 is not included for needed technology equipment.
During the board meeting, the 6 members who attended (once again Marty Turek was a no-show), all expressed concern about this underfunding of the HMS budget and asked many tough questions about how it was possible that the new building budget excluded the technology that is needed to run the entire district. Some board members rightfully pointed out that taxpayers ASSUMED when they voted for the new HMS that it was an "all in" project and that at a minimum, the new HMS would contain the same services and items that the old HMS has. Further, other board members pointed out that it is troubling that as the project has rolled out, the Board has been asked to ADD things to the budget, such as a fitness center and larger basement, and have been asked (but didn't approve) "extras" such as adding back the running track and using expensive tile flooring.
We should all recall that the original Cordogan Clark (the architect's) design budget was $47 million, but when costed out was over $70 million. The board then directed them to come back with a cheaper design, and things like the running track, auditorium and turf field were eliminated to bring the cost down. At that time, the community was not aware that in addition to these items, operable windows were also eliminated and the HVAC system was downgraded. After the project started, some of these items were identified as being needed and were added back. To our knowledge, at no time was the BOE or community told that the budget would not cover NEEDED TECHNOLOGY. It remains unclear whether this was not budgeted in the first place, or was stripped out during the attempt by Cordogan Clark to lower the cost of the building.
In a nutshell, and in our opinion, there may have been another HUGE BAIT AND SWITCH tactic perpetrated on District 181 taxpayers. The first questions that need to be answered are WHO IS AT FAULT and WHO NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE?
Additional questions that need to be answered are:
1. Did the HMS design budget EVER include the NEEDED technology?
2. If not, why not?
3. If yes, when was it stripped out, who authorized it and who in the District knew about it?
4. Why was the BOE not told about this until NOW?
The most important question, of course, is HOW WILL THESE TECHNOLOGY NEEDS BE PAID FOR? By now everyone knows that due to capital needs at the other 8 schools not having been budgeted for in the last few years, the district will now face a $1.5 million deficit and CUTS ARE COMING that may impact our children's education. The latest on this can be found at 1/16/18 Superintendent's Report.
It is clear from the comments made by some board members, that the district CANNOT AFFORD to pay for the HMS TECHNOLOGY NEEDS from the district budget, since this would grow the projected deficit and increase the cut list by another $530,000. So something will have to be cut from the HMS budget. Will it be NEW furniture? Will it be HIGH END FINISHES? We don't know and neither does the Board at this point.
What we do know is that SOMEONE needs to pay for this underfunding and the BOE needs to conduct an immediate investigation to determine who is responsible.
We hope the BOE will report their findings to the community at the next Board Meeting.
Until then, SOUND OFF here and by writing the BOE and Dr. White letters expressing your opinion on this issue.