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District 113 Holds First of Three Improvement Plan Meetings

Leadership team members, architects discussed the importance of assembling a master plan and emphasized transparency and community involvement at Deerfield High School on Monday night.

The first of three held Monday focused on assembling a master plan to tackle the renovation needs of and Deerfield High Schools.

Presenting a list of improvements in order of priority, speakers at Monday's meeting discussed ways to improve both the physical and educational aspects of District 113's two high schools. Though no costs for repairs were disclosed, the list was ordered into tiers from need-to-have to nice-to-have.

(Editor's Note: Speakers at Monday's meeting indicated that the slideshow with specific details from the presentation would soon be posted on District 113's website. The exact link will be added to this article once the slides are up.)

"The exercise that we're embarking upon," said Mark Jolicoeur, the K-12 Education Market Leader at Perkins and Will Architecture firm, "is a long-term view of your facilities."

The meeting began with Walter "Tripp" Hainsfurther and David Brint, who gave an overview of . They introduced Jolicoeur and Perkins and Will Principal Architect Steve Turckes. Jolicoeur discussed the high schools' physical needs, while Turckes discussed its educational needs.

"As Highland Park has grown over time you get these discontiguous types of spaces," Turckes said. "How can we get those spaces that want to be next to each other next to each other?"

With an eye on project cost, both architects mentioned that many of the needs facing the district could be met with affordable measures, and not necessarily all at once.

"It could be as simple as changing the names on the door," Turckes said. "We're trying to be as cost conscious as we can."

For the physical alterations, both the architects as well as Brint and Hainsfurther discussed solutions that emphasized cost-effectiveness as well as durability.

"You hear talk about going to Chevy components instead of Cadillac components," Hainsfurther said.

A more open process than the last

After the presentations were made, attendees submitted written questions that were fielded by Brint and Hainsfurther. Many mentioned the last attempt by the district to renovates its schools,

"It was an awful lot of money, and I don't think a compelling case was made for why that money should be spent," Brint said about the $133 million referendum. "I don't think it was narrowed down to what was needed at the time… Hopefully the process will … will be a little more acceptable to the community."

The meeting seemed to go a long way for residents like David Greenberg who were vehemently opposed to the 2011 referendum.

"This is what we should have done," Greenberg said about the district's outreach to residents for involvement in the plan. "This is everything we've been asking for… an in-depth analysis of the costs."

Other residents, however, were nonplussed with the meeting. Rose and Lawrence Feder expressed concern that the district

"The survey results should be released," Rose Feder said.

Another resident who was unhappy with the meeting was Phylis Bagan, a member of , the community group that organized against the 2011 referendum. She was frustrated that she had to write her questions down, and that questions were only answered by Brint and Hainsfurther rather than board members. She would have preferred to have been able to stand up and speak during the meeting to members of the board.

"I'm entitled to have my words heard," Bagan said.

Board members Michael Smith and Marjie Sandlow were pleased with how the meeting went and optimistic about the process going forward.

"I thought the presentation was superb," Smith said. "I hope everyone in the community takes the opportunity to get educated."

Sandlow was especially glad to see the involvement of Brint, Hainsfurther and other community members who have sat on small teams throughout the past year to help study the district's needs.

"Community members gives a lot of credibility to the process," Sandlow said. "Hopefully the community will see that."

The next two public meetings, Oct. 2 and Nov. 27, are both scheduled for 7 p.m. at . 

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Pete Trotter September 05, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Here we go again! The Dist. 113 Board has an "ediface complex" and is hell bent on building buildings and spending money we don't have in a time of real economic hardship for Deerfield and Highland Park residents. Until the raw data from the community survey is released, the process WILL NOT BE transparent. It is time for a whole new Board of Education.
D'skidoc September 05, 2012 at 07:08 PM
And who the *&%&^%$ are you? There were thousands of hours of transparency in the form of meetings ANYONE could have been involved in. 100 year old buildings are just another 2 years older. Time to invest in the greatest community asset we have, OUR SCHOOLS!
Richard H Heineman Jr September 05, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Look at the districts website. http://www.dist113.org/communityaction/Pages/default.aspx Everything that you might want to know is posted here.
Benjamin Bronk September 05, 2012 at 09:23 PM
This is exactly why the survey should have been released. We have people like Petey here using this as a red herring. Its clear something needs to be done about the schools, the issue is what is the work that is absolutely required. There are reasonable people on both sides of the discussion and a lot of hours (and transparency) have been a part of the process this time around. There are also extremists on both sides of the issue, including some that are hell bent on spending ZERO despite the real needs and of course others that think we need the Taj Mahal. The problem with not releasing the survey data is it gives people like Pete and issue to hold onto and distract from the real discussion. I think D113 is making a real mistake by playing right into the extremists hands. Every article that comes up, somebody mentions the damn survey data.
Bringin' Down Briarwood September 05, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Thank you, BB. Somebody had to say it at some point, and I couldn't agree with you more. There is definitely a vocal group hell bent on spending ZERO - and that's the problem. They can cover it with all kinds of smoke screens - "needs, not wants," "where's the survey," "decline in enrollment" and my favorite, "get the community involved (oops!!)." In the end, they simply want no additional taxes for something that doesn't really affect most of their demographic. Whether you put the survey out there or not, it's was going to result in yet another smoke screen. Can you imagine the silly number of references to the smallest detail from people who really don;t know what they're talking about? It would get ridiculous. D113 has been more than generous in trying to include the loudmouths - far too generous. (Too bad none of the usual suspects can be found on the roster for the Market Research team. Hmmm, maybe that would have offered some insight?) Unfortunately, the loudmouths weren't really smart enough to know how to (or even attempt to) take advantage of an open process. So let the mindless moaning continue. It's time for the rest of us to move along.
David Greenberg September 06, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Back when the survey was started, I remarked that the data should have been released, with any personally-identifiable information excised. The methodology for evaluation should have likewise been shared. Then if anyone disagreed with the evaluation, they could conduct their own evaluation, post their methodology and a discussion (or discussions) comparing/contrasting the methodologies and results could take place. Based on what I've seen in the 1914 Study Group-where we worked together and ranked items into Tiers-I have little doubt that groups with opposing methodologies/evaluations could have sat down and come to SOME sort of agreement by now. But by not releasing the data, we've got this issue to contend with that someone's trying to hide something, that something isn't transparent, or on the up-and-up. To be blunt, we just spent 18 months of our lives working on a plan that helps to allay those issues - it shouldn't be for naught. The choices are simple-D113 releases the data, moves past whatever fears it has about different interpretations of the data, has the discussions, and moves on, or continues to fan the flames of distrust. I prefer the former. I've always said that the Schools have needs and that they need to be met. I want to see this process continue to move forward so we can have a discussion of how we're going to pay for the needs, and over what period they will be implemented so we can ensure a quality education while minimizing our tax impact.
David Greenberg September 06, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Finally, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "Thank you to D113 for engaging in this process. For putting together the Study Groups, and for engaging in THOUSANDS of hours of work." This is truly a process that is unprecedented, and when it's all said and done, it should be written up as a case study so that other School Districts (and perhaps governmental agencies) can learn from it.
V. Scheurich September 11, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Cities across Michigan are finally taking the right steps to educate our children. We have to give Roscommon, Michigan a hat tip for taking the right steps to get our children educated properly http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/17516
Harry Steindler September 11, 2012 at 05:45 PM
District 113 teachers are not unionized - although drawing a correlation between union membership, independent unions, etc. is quite a generalization. I believe the fact that District 109 has strong union leadership and participation led to important changes for District 109 students in 2012.
Harry Steindler September 11, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I meant to say drawing a correlation between union membership, independent unions, etc. and student achievement is quite a generalization

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