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  1. I am happy to provide some commentary about the 10 school model. Anyone that endorses this does not seem to be grounded in the reality of our financial situation. While I agree that all models should be considered, it seems to me that this model is a non-starter without significant tax increases for operating budgets to build out the educational ideas that all of the candidates so eloquently supported at the LOWV conversation on Sunday.

    Please let me know how the 10 school model addresses the following issues:

    1. Class size – Currently, the HP middle school average class size is 13 student per class, significantly below the average class size for any other school in the state. This does not promote cohort learning or provide the opportunity for expanded studies which have been cut from our school for budgetary reasons.
    2. Financial – Our school district cannot afford a 10 building model, unless, of course, the district significantly raises taxes to support the necessary educational resources to support a 10 school model.

    Only one of the people in this group is active in the reconfiguration 2.0 activities. When asked on Sunday if they would make the difficult decisions to close their school, they all agreed that they would.

    I look forward to the results of reconfiguration 2.0’s work, which, I am quite certain, will obviate their claims that a 10 school model will accomplish the goals of supporting expanded educational opportunities, as well as the financial needs of the community.

    Running on a ticket of supporting a 10 school model sounds great (who doesn’t want a neighborhood school?), but, in the end, would not accomplish their stated goals of financial responsibility as well as expanding educational opportunities.

    On a side note, I would have liked to have seen the League of Women Voters ask this question directly of the candidates, as it would have provided some insight into their insights into the vast array of issues, and how they would go about solving them.

    • Dan, thank you for the question. I assure you that I am grounded in reality. I have poured over the details and run a lot of analysis.
      1) Our average class size in middle school is about 20 plus or minus a couple depending on the school for general education classes. The 13 number that one candidate keeps mentioning includes all of the special needs classes, and I do not think it is the right measure for comparison to other districts who report their averages differently or have smaller special needs populations.
      2) The statement that our district cannot afford a 10-building model without raising taxes is not factual. The 10-building model sent to the Reconfiguration 2.0 team shows that D112 can afford 10-buildings. Keeping more buildings open prevents us from having to spend money building new classrooms in a referendum and that ultimately will avoid property tax increases from a referendum.

      We all agreed that we would indeed be fair about closing “our school” if the situation warranted it, but I have not seen the evidence that shows closing more than two schools is warranted. I am quite certain that a 10-school model is workable, that research supports that smaller K-8 schools are better for educational outcomes, and that a 10-building model does not depend on a property tax-increasing referendum to succeed.

      Our “ticket” is the agenda stated in the article to which you originally responded, nothing more. Like the other candidates, we welcome a factual discussion and want the best for our children and our community.

      • Brent:

        Thank you for your response. Please respond to the question about educational opportunities being reduced because of the distribution of middle school resources. Moving to two middle schools will enable more educational opportunities, since the schools will have more students and, therefore, more opportunities that have been cut because of budget issues (i.e. more languages, etc).

        As far as educational research for K-8, it seems to be important for lower grades (k-5) to have smaller classrooms, but, having small classrooms for middle school would not necessarily prepare them for the larger and independent environment that they will be subject to in high school.

        I am of the opinion that our children are more resilient than what we give them credit for, so, putting them in larger classrooms earlier will not damage their ability to learn. I will admit that I have not done the research on this, but, it seems like a logical transition from the small classroom sizes that we have in the elementary program to the larger class sizes in high school.

        I am glad to hear that you are open to having a reduced number of schools, smaller than 10.

        Take care,

        Dan Creinin

      • I wanted to do some additional research into the questions as it relates to averages. I went to the following website to do some comparisons between middle schools (which I encourage all readers of this posting to do);

        Illinoisreportcard.com

        I ran a comparison of middle schools (one in Glenview, one in East Moline, and one in Deerfield). The average middle school size for those is anywhere from 19 to 26 students per class. I would have to assume that the demographics of those schools is similar to those of our neighborhoods. The average class size is significantly different than the average size for ours, which come in at 13/14/13 (Elm Place, Northwood, Edgewood). Once again, I would have to assume that because we have such small class sizes, that it would limit the educational opportunities for the students.

        I would also be interested in how your assumptions in the financial model compare to the assumptions of other models. What is difference between the various models? In the 10 school model, how do the middle schools and their respective boundaries compare to what is going on today? How do the feeder schools work? Are there any other key assumptions that you have that might differ from the small building count models? Are there key assumptions concerning the necessary repairs that differ from the models put forth by other candidates?

        These are the questions that I would have liked to have seen asked at the LOWV event on Sunday, rather than the “matzah ball” questions that were asked.

        I would open this discussion up to other members of the reconfiguration 2.0 committee to answer these same questions, as I am not privy to the data that the committee members use to determine if the models are appropriate.

        As with any numeric calculations, the devil is always in the details. Not unlike our current federal administration, it is easy to paint broad brush strokes about policies like healthcare reform, the budget, etc, and say that things will work out without having the details behind them.

        On a side note, in no way am I comparing the work that you are doing to the “voodoo economics” of our current federal administration. Your work is a thankless job, and I am glad to see that you are challenging assumptions (and not wasting taxpayer dollars playing golf on the weekend). Hopefully, though, the manner in which you are challenging these assumptions is appropriate and can stand up to the sniff test of reasonable, well, assumptions.

        Thanks, in advance, for your time in responding publicly to these issues.

        Dan Creinin

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