Regardless of whether you agree with the Highland Park School District 112 Referendum or not, all residents should be concerned with how our money is spent.
The Board has spent significant amounts of time and money electioneering, all the while claiming that the school system is broke. PR firms costing $12,000/month, architectural conceptual “plans'” which have cost well over $700,000, and its all fantasy and speculation. Nothing has been approved. Its all about new and shiny, not education.
Education is about teaching, not buildings. The teacher and the student. Fewer students in each class result in better outcomes because there is more time for individual contact. We should keep our small, walkable schools and hire more teachers—yes, hire more teachers. Bring down the student/teacher ratio, not increase it. It’s a fantastic thing that we have such small schools, regardless if an accountant tells us its not “efficient.” So what we can’t use every square foot of every school—that’s an advantage. Let’s focus on teaching.
If we have a surplus, which it seems we do, and we stop wasting money on fantasy building projects, we can spend the money directly on teaching. Even if that means borrowing for teachers. Buildings do not make kids smarter, teachers can, and do.
Should we as a community invest more in teaching, rather than buildings, our outcomes will better, and better than the surrounding communities we compete with. Families will move here, housing prices will go up. We will be in a better place financially with higher real estate prices.
This is a boondoggle if there ever was one. Highland Park property property values will plummet because parents know the value of small schools with small classes accessible to young kids–by walking under their own power. Schools are infrastructure, remove the school, lower the property values.
The Board’s February 16, 2016 “vote” to close 4 schools if the Referendum fails was simply the Board trying to coerce us into passing the Referendum. It is coercive electioneering at its worse.
The new middle school will be the exact same size as the high school, just with the height of the water fountains lowered, as our current 3 middle schools slated to be town down are the only middle schools that feed the high school. No research supports starting high school in the 5th grade, and that’s what consolidation will do–start our kids in high school in the 5th grade. Who wants that? The Board’s same reasoning supports the dumb idea to tear down all of the elementary schools and build a giant elementary school.
When the high school was built, it was built in central Highland Park so everyone could get to it. Here, the Board wants to build the new “high school” located in the remotest part of town relative to the other parts.
Mornings will be a madcap scramble. This will be a logistic nightmare for parents getting their kids back and forth from school during the time of day they already need to be somewhere themselves. Nearly every parent in Highland Park will lose personal time ferrying their kids back and forth, the unlucky ones on the bus for long periods doing nothing.
Highland Park resident and parent of four children in NSSD 112
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highland park school district 112, highland park schools, highland park referendum