D86 - Say No to Boundary Change

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As residents of district 86, we are strongly against the “School Boundary Change” proposed at the May 29th special meeting.  A School boundary change will NOT fundamentally address the difference in number of students attending Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South and  will not address the more urgent needs of our district – aging and unsafe facilities.  It is extremely disruptive to our community, our families, and most of all, to our students.   As a result, the Board of Education will lose trust and support from many voters, ultimately leading to yet another failed referendum.           

If the referendum and facility update plan is delayed, it will cost much more in the future for the same projects simply because the construction labor and material cost rise every year.  In today's economic climate, interest rate is going up every quarter as well.  The longer the bond issues delay, the much higher interest cost will occur in future - a failed or delayed referendum will cost the taxpayers in D86 millions of dollars more.

Boundary changes not only confuse the referendum process, but will make it even more likely that the referendum will fail.  You can’t tell homeowners and their students that their homes are no longer located in an area that goes to Hinsdale Central and still expect them to vote yes on the referendum.   They will lose school choice and face lower property values. 

1.     The boundary change decision has no solid basis at its face value. It does not change anything.  It was based on poorly worded questions from the phone poll.  

a.     First the question was presented as a “either or” question to the voter to choose between boundary change and “adding classrooms in Central”. But, in reality, as stated by multiple board members, it is not “an either or choice”. Even after boundary change, some classrooms and science labs are still needed.

b.     Also, the question is misleading because most of people in the community don’t have enough background information yet. For instance, People don’t know the referendum amount probably only will be reduced by very small amount in 184M dollar referendum because adding 10 classrooms only cost about 9M dollar. If we don’t build any classroom, saving is just 9M. 

2.     It is still unclear if the added classrooms are needed for capacity issues or because education has changed since the school was built decades ago.  As another Board member stated, new classrooms will still be needed even after a boundary change, and if more students are added to Hinsdale South, then that facility will also become over crowded in many areas such as Band Room and Cafe based on the information provided by ARCON. 

3.     Changing school boundaries will INEVITABLY lead to civil litigations, which means this option will neither be fast nor cheap.  Based on proximity, moving the more racially and social economically diverse homes to the South attendance area will have further disproportional impact on the demographics.  This is grounds for Title Six civil rights violation.  Litigation will be costly to the district and taxpayers, once in motion, will put the boundary change on hold.  Making boundary change the top priority for the district is stopping the strategic plan and will without doubt cause the referendum to fail.

4.     Changing school boundaries diverts time and resources from the real issues.  We need to focus on communicating and educating district voters on the current conditions of our schools and the urgent strategic plans to address them.   

5.     People were told last year that the boundary issue was going to be dropped.  It has severely eroded trust between the communities and the Board of Education, and further divides our communities.  Additionally, it significantly reduces support for a potential referendum in November.  Rather than garnering additional support, as Mr. Carpenter expressed in the May 29 meeting, you alienate likely yes voters by creating doubt, fear and mistrust of the Board. 

6.     Changing the school boundaries will set a disturbing precedence for future decision making.  Rather than developing and executing a student centered, forward thinking strategic plan, future board(s) could over and over again resort to boundary change as an easy fix to resolve enrollment challenges.  The uncertainty will spread to more and more homeowners and cause significant adverse impact to the entire D86 community. The property value in not only affected area but also entire Hinsdale School district will be impacted negatively.   

7.     Changing school boundaries and moving students from one facility to another poses a tremendous amount of uncertainty, stress and disruption to our students and their academic, extracurricular life, on top of their already busy lives.

8.     Changing school boundaries forces people to attend schools they did not choose. It not only disrupts children’s education, but also negatively impacts people’s property value. Choosing where to live and what schools to go to are some of the most important decisions people make in their lives.  Many families made significant sacrifices in their lives in order to invest in their children’s education and their future. Their choices deserve to be respected and honored. 
We strongly urge the Board to COMPLETELY DROP the potential boundary change and STOP further discussions about any future boundary changes. Please focus on educating our communities on the schools’ needs and the strategic plan to address them.  We hope BOE will show its strong leadership to focus on the strategic facility plan and referendum for the benefit of entire D86.