First Meeting on Possible School Closings Set for Thursday

D112 may have to chose between fewer schools or higher taxes. Thursday's meeting is the first of six public discussions on the topic.

Will Edgewood Middle School be one of the survivors if North Shore School District 112 decides to operate with fewer buildings. Photo courtesy of North Shore School District 112.
Will Edgewood Middle School be one of the survivors if North Shore School District 112 decides to operate with fewer buildings. Photo courtesy of North Shore School District 112.
The first of six public meetings to discuss the possible choice between fewer schools or higher taxes for North Shore District 112 will be held Thursday morning.

That is the essence of discussions which will take place when the Superintendent’s Citizen Finance and Facilities Advisory Committee presents its findings to the citizenry in a series of meetings. The three broad subjects will be whether to operate the District’s buildings without seeking additional revenue, using the existing structures with a bond issue for improvements and sell bonds to renovate and maintain fewer buildings. There will also be an online survey.

Thursday's meeting is scheduled for 9:30-11:30 at the Highland Park Country Club. You can RSVP here.

The District operates eight elementary schools for students in kindergarten through fifth grades and three middle schools for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. There are approximately 4,400 students in the schools.

Districts of 112’s size would normally operate with seven schools, according to Superintendent David Behlow. He will make a recommendation to the Board of Education after further extensive study but stresses the decision will come from the community.

Keep up with all the news of Highland Park. Sign up for our free newsletter, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Richard H Heineman Jr February 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM
Everyone should read the report that is on the district website. http://www.nssd112.org/files/_xLDrZ_/fffe7ebe94852a5a3745a49013852ec4/SCFFAC_Report_to_the_Community_with_Hyperlinks_Feburary_6_2014.pdf If you are to lazy to read the report then you should not comment.
The Q February 12, 2014 at 11:11 AM
Richard, that's a nice report but it does not tell the whole story. It just says here is where we are and now the only real choice is close schools and raise taxes. We spend around $13,000 per student, which is way above the state and national average. Why are we broke, with schools that are falling apart?......connect the dots. Many more districts do much more, with much less. MISMANAGEMENT.....
AK February 12, 2014 at 11:43 AM
Replacement reserves will drive the taxes even higher. Which is fine because property values usually increase after tax increases (per Forest Barbieri educational seminars for giraffes)
AK February 12, 2014 at 11:46 AM
70% of the teachers are so dumb it is not even funny
Stu Pidasso February 12, 2014 at 12:54 PM
AK- I agree 100%. They are the ones that cannot make it in the "real" world, they turn to academia to survive. I would like to see a number of these nitwits navigate through the treacherous waters of the business environment!! They would NOT survive!! Scary thing is that a number of these " " Administrators are playing with the Budgets of our School system!!! It's always easy to spend others money!!!
The Q February 12, 2014 at 03:09 PM
There are 20 kids in my daughters 3rd grade class, that's around $260,000, 13k x 20. Some classes have more, some less so its a fair average. Lets say Teacher w/ benefits is 100k. 20k for shared resources, another 10k for misc. That's half, where does the rest go?
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther February 12, 2014 at 03:16 PM
Parts of this discussion are, at best, misguided. Teachers should have high value to the community, but that's not the issue here. The District has had a set aside for maintenance of the buildings, as well as a capital improvement plan. However, due to the inefficiency in operating 12 buildings, they have "raided" that line item to balance the budget for operational costs. Deferring these activities have allowed them to slowly deteriorate. The community is being asked to decide how they want the District to proceed. Do they want to continue to operate 12 buildings (of which I would call 11 "schools") and accept a wide range of section size and number? Or will they support operating fewer and larger buildings? Both have a cost ramification. This is the input they are looking for. They will not talk about specific schools, but as the report states, reducing the number of building saves between $2 -5 Million/year in staffing costs.
Stu Pidasso February 12, 2014 at 03:34 PM
blah blah blah just shut up....
forest barbieri February 12, 2014 at 03:34 PM
@Walter (Tripp) Thanks for adding some factual and logical info to the blog. @AK Did I really say that or do you just extrapolate that from my position in the past of supporting quality education and educational facilities within the community as it creates demand and lifts property values. I am no more in favor of taxes than the next person and will be evaluating this process just like others. What should be on everyone's calendar that is blogging here, is to attend at least one of the meetings to become informed and to have some impute into the process. Full disclosure: my 2014/15 next year D112 student may not attend D112. So my view will really be, one of evaluating logical D112 actions that will add accretive value to the community in the most fiscally prudent manner as I pay my share of those taxes also.
The Q February 12, 2014 at 03:36 PM
I disagree Walter.....we need to find out why we waste so much money first. Then fix the problem.....otherwise its just business as usual and we are back here again in 5-10yrs.
Richard H Heineman Jr February 12, 2014 at 03:41 PM
Seriously read the report. There is a huge amount of information about the district's finances. It also includes information of the effect of the possible changes.
The Q February 12, 2014 at 03:48 PM
I read the report..... And they wrote it, it's not an independent audit. Its obvious why we have problems. There is no doubt we need to close schools. But We also need to fix the mismanagement problem of how we got here.....
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther February 12, 2014 at 04:04 PM
Q: There have, no doubt, been many areas of mismanagement in the past. For example, at one time they had a whole layer of middle management that was probably unnecessary. I'm not a budget expert, so I would leave that to others to delve into. It is important for the community to understand that we are some ways away from solving this problem. Probably 1-2 years before something would be brought to a vote, so there is time for Q to ask many questions of the Board, and I would encourage many of you to do so. However, the choices will not change. Do we have fewer and larger schools or continue to operate the existing schools. Both require investments. How that is paid for is an entirely another question that I am not prepared to discuss, as we don't know what the plan is and what other resources are available.
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther February 12, 2014 at 04:12 PM
BY the way, the report was written by a group of committee members, not the administration. And Stu, your comments reflect your pen name sometimes.
AK February 12, 2014 at 04:54 PM
Commie is getting pretty active here. And you wonder why.
Stu Pidasso February 12, 2014 at 06:04 PM
Walter.. I'm impressed by your advanced observations.. keep it up and you might be able to solve the multitude of problems that are plagueing the district, namely INEPT management!!!
Highlands HP'er February 12, 2014 at 11:56 PM
The Q - "There are 20 kids in my daughters 3rd grade class, that's around $260,000, 13k x 20. ... Lets say Teacher w/ benefits is 100k. 20k for shared resources, another 10k for misc. That's half, where does the rest go?" I think there is a spending problem, but your analysis is insultingly simplistic. You have reading teachers, special ed teachers, gym teachers, music teachers, gifted teachers, Speech pathologists, social workers, administration, technology support, janitorial, Lesson program costs, supplies, energy costs, bus driver costs, teacher assistant costs, library costs, testing costs, security costs, teacher training costs, legal costs, insurance costs, and im sure items I cant even think of.
The Q February 13, 2014 at 03:06 PM
Those people are shared resources.......the average Charter School spends around $9,200 per student vs $13,000....so I hope you are insulted by mismanagement and waste.
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther February 13, 2014 at 05:20 PM
Q: Charter schools do not provide special services that Public Schools are required to. You can't compare the two, in many ways. I have had family who have taught in charter, public and parochial schools and they are three different environments. Highland Park schools have a significant population of special needs, English language learners and other special populations. I am curious if anyone reading went to today's public session and would like to report what they learned or thought.
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther February 13, 2014 at 05:21 PM
BTW, Q, I am not saying that the District couldn't be run more efficiently, but 80% of the budget is personnel.
Highlands HP'er February 13, 2014 at 05:50 PM
The Q- "the average Charter School spends around $9,200". I agree with what walter has said. However, I'd also like to add you are extrapolating a national statistic with a single location. Highland park and the Chicago metropolitan area is a high cost of living location. You simply cannot compare a salary in rural ohio to one in a major metropolis. I think you will start to see that number go up if you compare spending in major urban areas. Likely, it will still be less spend per student, however, you will have to ask yourself... what is the qualitative difference in the education the children are receiving? Our goal is not to have the cheapest education. Our goal is to have the most cost effective bordering on highest quality education we can reasonably afford. I did not move to Highland Park and do not pay high property taxes to have a school system on equal terms with an chicago urban charter school.
The Q February 13, 2014 at 05:59 PM
Look I am posting statistics and averages for a comparison.....these other school systems don't have buildings falling apart either. I went to a Chicago public grade school, and Catholic high school. My high school delivered a top notch education at less than what the city of Chicago is spending per student. I have seen both ends of the spectrum and what the difference good management can make. HP may have kids with special needs but so do all schools and we also have a great deal of children, I would be higher than avg, that need no help at all. The fact of the matter is that you don't get crumbling schools because things where managed correctly. We needed 100m+ in bonds for the high schools....same nonsense. This is a typical case of other peoples money, easy to spend.
The Q February 13, 2014 at 06:12 PM
Highland HP......that's why its called a National avg. not the avg from rural Ohio. Further more we don't have the best schools either so I am not even sure what your point is. Go check out Great Schools web site and get back to on where 112 ranks....We have high taxes, high spending, crumbling schools .......
Highlands HP'er February 14, 2014 at 07:09 PM
The q- my exact point is that it's a national average. Are you sure Loyola math was so good? You understand for averages to work... some will be above and some below. So.. rural Ohio will be below 9k... urban areas will be above 9k. It's like comparing the median income of ny to that of the national average and jumping to the conclusion that ny'ers are overpaid. I suppose if you want to compare financial sectors to the farming sectors..
The Q February 14, 2014 at 07:30 PM
@highlands hp- I bring up all kinds of schools Chicago public, Deerfield, Loyola, and charter, because your not going to learn why the next guy is doing it better if you don't look. Money is not the issue there are so many factors, we have no pension or building costs. Pay attention you may learn how efficient successful people solve problems.... This is a political problem, no one has the balls to fix the real issues and make the tough choices that a lot of people will not be happy with in the short run.
Stu Pidasso February 15, 2014 at 12:57 AM
@ Q Right on!!!
Highlands HP'er February 15, 2014 at 08:38 AM
believe it or not... we actually have below average spend per student in the area. we aren't that far from 109. http://www.dps109.org/operations/StrategicPlanUpdate/Documents/Strat%20Plan%20Update%20Goal%205%20April%202013.pdf
Highlands HP'er February 15, 2014 at 08:47 AM
the q- the only way to significantly drop the school cost would be to break the union, fire all the teachers, and create havoc. this could be a case of penny smart pound stupid. maybe you could save $1000 a year in property taxes. you would also likely see a drop of $10k or more in house value when people dont want to put their children in the school district. running a multi million dollar school district isnt the same as running a convenience store. When you enter the corporate world you learn how restricted things actually are and you learn you cant change the world with a blow torch. change requires strategy and long term thinking.
The Q February 15, 2014 at 08:52 AM
Look at the report you posted, we spend more than 109 by over $1000 per student and we have one of the biggest populations which means we should have a ton of operational efficiencies we don't have...all roads lead to mismanagement. Once again its not a money problem.
Gerry Meister February 21, 2014 at 06:12 PM
why post stupid comments?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something