The Second-Class Citizens Of School District 64


Hey, all you parents of children who attend Carpenter and Field elementary schools!  How do you like your kids being treated like second-class citizens?

Haven’t you wondered why Carpenter and Field are the only D-64 schools that aren’t air conditioned?  Or why there is no plan or contingency fund to deal with the possibility that Carpenter’s 56-year old boilers and/or Field’s 48-year old boilers might suddenly conk out in the dead of winter?

Let’s start with A/C, to which D-64 obviously made a commitment in most of its schools awhile back. Presumably A/C improves the learning environment by eliminating such distractions as outside noise from open windows.  And sweat dripping off foreheads onto book pages.  And the need for constant hydration.

So why do Carpenter and Field get “Excessive Heat ‘Interrupted Day’ Options at Carpenter & Field Schools” instead of A/C?  Could the District be trying to level the playing field?

After all, Carpenter recently made a first-time appearance on the Chicago Tribune’s Top 50 list of elementary school ISAT scores, tied for 49th place (although, mysteriously, it didn’t show up on the Sun-Times’ Top 100 list).  And Field kids might be suspected of enjoying some extra economic advantage by virtue of their more tony “Country  Club” neighborhood.  Are D-64 officials trying to act as “Handicapper Generals” and impose harsher learning environments on the Carpenter and Field children, mimicking the dystopian America of 2081 in Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron?

Or is this merely another example of incompetent D-64 financial management?

We first raised that question back in our December 7, 2010 post, “A Property Tax Increase To Air Condition And Heat Carpenter School?”  Since then, according to Elementary School District 64 Supt. Philip Bender in his recent interview by TribLocal’s Jennifer Delgado, the District’s brand new “architect of record,” Fanning Howey (“FH”), has completed a $100,000 evaluation of the District’s facilities as part of a “facility master plan.” 

And guess what?  Air conditioning and new boilers for Carpenter and Field have been identified as  needs…but not until next year’s (2012-13) budget, at the earliest.  And, apparently, that’s only because of the hell being raised by some active, vocal parents – a few of whom don’t even have kids at Carpenter or Field.

According to a story in this week’s Park Ridge Journal (“District 64’s Master Plan”), the District is relying on those whiz-bang FH architects and engineers to “teach the board, and educate the public, on how to go about this process of decision-making regarding all of our schools” – a process that is being planned to take until May 2012. 

Exactly how inept are our D-64 officials when they have to hire architects and engineers to provide lessons on public policy and decision-making? 

Frankly, it’s outrageous that Carpenter and Field have been neglected to the point where they have no A/C, and are limping along with boilers that sound like they could fail at any time.  And it’s obscene that the District appears to have neither the money nor a plan for addressing those situations immediately – while at the same time reportedly having the 4th highest compensated administrators and the 25th highest compensated teachers in the entire State of Illinois. 

We’re willing to cut Supt. Bender and School Board members Anthony Borrelli and Dan Collins a tiny bit of slack, given that they are the new kids on the block.  But what excuses do “senior” Board members John Heyde, Eric Uhlig, Sharon Lawson, Pat Fioretto and Scott Zimmerman have for this goat rodeo – other than to blame the departed Supt. “Mustang Sally” Pryor?   

Meanwhile, the District continues to muddle along with its second-class treatment of students whose parents basically pay the same property taxes as those whose kids don’t risk heat stroke or frostbite to get their educations.

Go figure.

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15 comments so far

As you may be aware, Roosevelt and Washington only recently got air conditioning. A significant portion of the cost of the A/C was paid for by other government agencies. The A/C was installed and funded by other government agencies because of the opening of the new runway at ORD and the continuing incessant noise from airplanes flying over or very near the schools on a regular basis during the school days. Had the runway not opened, Roosevelt and Washington would also not be air conditioned because D64 states they don’t have the money.

Parents from Roosevelt attended school board meetings and tried for years to get A/C installed. When the school year starts in mid-August then you can bet it will be hot in an un-A/C’d building. Also, other schools were already air conditioned so those kids in the non-A/C’d schools were not provided an equal educational environment as the other schools.

As I understand it, the Roosevelt PTO (some years back) offered to raise or did raise the money to put in the A/C. The district said no to this because they said D64 could not afford to pay for the upkeep and increase utility costs. So the students got ceiling fans installed instead.

The reality is that many of the costs of building maintenance are paid by PTO fundraisers and not D64. The PTO’s raise money for technology, painting the interior of the schools, outdoor equipment and maintenance-the list goes on. These are costs that should be paid by the district.

D64 collects our tax dollars-and quite alot of them. In addition, parents of students pay about $220 in school fees for K-5 and over $300 for grades 6-8. (Let’s not even get started on all the supplies the students have to bring in.) Where are all our tax dollars going? D64 cannot afford to properly maintain the facilities? Unbelievable. But when you pay a former Supt. like Sally Pryor $250,000 per year so she can then collect $150,000+ per year for the rest of her life in retirement, that does not leave much money to actually educate the students in safe and healthy environment.

EDITOR’S NOTE: From the sound of your comments, PTOs are unwitting/intentional “enablers” of D-64’s mismanagement.

We presume that for many parents it’s a lot easier (and more fun) to hold fundraisers, variety shows, etc. than to inform themselves on the issues, go to board meetings, and demand that our elected and appointed officials actually manage our tax dollars and the schools wisely. Plus, you get a lot fewer dirty looks from the teachers, administrators and board members.

No PTO’s are not enabling the mismanagement of D64 management. Should not be surprised that the curmudgeon you seem to be would interpret it this way. And if you have ever volunteered for a fundraiser you know they are alot of hardwork and headaches and not much fun at all. But given how the school board and administration have managed the district over the years and given the fact that trying to make a change through the board takes a very long time, PTO’s are able to do and get done rather quickly projects and improvements that the school board and administration is either unable or unwilling to do or too stupid to understand need to be done.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks for making our “enabling” argument for us by pointing out how PTOs have enabled “the school board and administration [that] is either unable or unwilling to do” the things that they should be doing, or that they are “too stupid to understand need to be done.”

So you are saying that when ever private citizens band together to raise funds or put in time for something that might normally be provided by government they are enabling bad government?? This is not what you have said in the past.

Additionally, in many cases it is people involved with orgainzations like the PTO that are also more involved in trying to hold various government agencies accountable.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What we have consistently said is that essential government services are what the taxpayers are owed for their tax dollars. What “might normally be provided by government” is most definitely not synonymous with “essential government services.”

From our experience, PTOs are more likely to be manipulated and/or duped by public officials than they are to hold those officials accountable.

So apparently that means you consider A/C to be an essential government service.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On days like today we consider it every bit the equal of fire and the wheel, but we don’t recall ever calling A/C “an essential government service.”

That being said, D-64 has chosen to provide A/C to all of its schools other than Carpenter and Field, presumably under a belief that it aids the educational process (otherwise it would be a wasteful frill). So maybe D-64 considers it “essential”…except, apparently, for the Carpenter and Field kids.

This is hysterical! There’s a secret scheme behind every action of the school board! Of course the only reason Carpenter and Field don’t have AC is because they didn’t qualify for soundproofing funds from the airport. But since that fact doesn’t fit the narrative of a scheme to keep wealthy Field kids and all the little geniuses at Carpenter down, the bloggers here ignore the facts and speculate that the school board has plotted against Field and Carpenter kids. They also ignore the fact there have been many Field school parents on the school board in many years past but who didn’t do anything about AC or the boilers for decades either. Maybe those Field school parents were in on the scheme to keep the wealthier kids at their school suffering through heat and cold and they anticipated the little geniuses at Carpenter would one day be on some standardized testing list so they tried to keep them down too. It’s all one long scheme for the bloggers here!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently satire is lost on you.

As for Carpenter and Field not having A/C “because they didn’t qualify for soundproofing funds from the airport,” that doesn’t really change the educational effect on the teachers and the students, now does it? Maybe D-64’s board can start buying Powerball tickets and hope to fund A/C and boilers by winning the grand prize.

Satire FAIL.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For you, it always does.

It’s a good sign that commenters jump in to defend the school board; it means PW is becoming an active public forum.

It’s a bad sign that the first two commenters don’t realize that “a lot” consists of two words, not one.

The point here seems to be simple. The budget must reflect priorities. Is A/C a priority worthy of the taxpayer’s dollars?

If it is, delete something else from the budget. If it’s not, keep holding fundraisers.

If excessive heat does not adversely affect student performance, District 64 should shut off the AC at the other schools to prove it. It would aslo save the District a lot of electricity cost.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A reverse Harrison Bergeron?

Editor… that’s a GREAT KV reference.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s a great story that works on a number of levels when dealing with the foibles of government.

If A/C is a mere amenity for our children, then the board should set an example. Surely adults (and our elected officials calling the shots) should be able to easily endure the same condition as our 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 year olds? Perhaps the board of education should meet on the top floors of the Carpenter or Field in the summer months, or on the ground floor of these schools in the winter months. Also, why not save some money (as Obama called for in adjusting our thermostats) by regulating the education building on Prospect to match the temps in our more unfortunate elemetary schools? We all need to sacrifice! Oh, wait a minute — the attendees at the 8/8/11 school board meeting called for the air to be turned on in the Roosevelt LRC at their 8/8 meeting. And, Board member Fioretto complained at that same meeting about being stuck in a “hot room” for three hours at the board’s “retreat.” Sorry, kids – guess you’ll have to suck it up!!!

EDITOR’s NOTE: That’s because there’s no A/C to turn on at Carpenter and Field. But if those kids are lucky, maybe they’ll get window fans and a couple of big blocks of ice per day while the School Board continues to diddle on this issue.

The second floor of Field school was 96 degrees yesterday afternoon. But – that’s okay. The heat index wasn’t 110 degress in the morning per school policy. So nothing to see here, move along. Can we really consider that as an adequate day of education for those students? School was for all intents and purposes “called off” once it reached 80 degrees in those classrooms.

Scientists have known for decades that learning doesn’t take place under these conditions because the brain is screaming out for the body to make itself comfortable. Google it – the scientific literature is there. Al Gore confirms it! There is no learning going on at these temperatures, so let’s not pretend there there was because school wasn’t called off. How many parents work in office environments at that temperature? It’s called a “sweat shop,” and it’s not legally permissible. I hope our school board can perhaps repriortize it’s 80% spending on salaries toward some facility improvements – or else it’s time to elect some school officials who will.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We agree with your theme, anon, but we question whether anybody’s brain “is screaming out” for relief from mere 80 degree temperatures – other than, perhaps, Eskimos, Laplanders, and the occasional resident of northern Kalaallit Nunaat. Oh, and maybe Al Gore.

Anon 9:30 a.m.

You are spot-on with repriortizing the District’s 80% spending on salaries and directing money for facility maintenance and improvements. That was neglected for years while the teachers wages kept rising because we kept electing people who were beholden to the PREA to the board.

What I meant by the brain “screaming out” for the body to cool (or heat) itself in irregular temperatures is that the brain has a hard time focusing when the body is uncomfortable. The brain constantly nags at you to regulate your body temperature, which impacts the brain’s intellectual capacity. How about instead of “screaming,” how ’bout we use a more palatable metaphor…. When a person is hot, the brain will repeatedly tap you on the shoulder and says, “excuse me, kind sir or maam, would you please move the corpus to a cooler location? Pardon me; please forgive the frequent interruptions, Idon’t mean to disturb you from your multipication tables… but I’m friggin’ HOT!”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Okay, we get it. But 80 degrees? We’d be willing to bet those same kids could play an hour or two of video games in 80 degree heat and wouldn’t see a noticeable decrease in the number of zombies they killed, gold rings they grab, etc. – even without regular hydration breaks.

But for us, the bottom line is that we shouldn’t have to split hairs about 78 v. 80 degrees, or 72 v. 76 degrees – it’s the inequity of the situation, and the poor planning by the D-64 admin. and board, that has created it. And THAT’s what has to be remedied pronto.

“I hope our school board can perhaps repriortize it’s 80% spending on salaries toward some facility improvements – or else it’s time to elect some school officials who will”.

Finally someone gets to what this thread is really about. Do you really think the author of this blog and many of the posters are concerned about the “poor kids” and lack of A/C?? What we have here is called positioning. The editor referenced “upcoming teacher contract negotiations” in the prior thread. It would appear the blame (teachers fault that our kids have no AC)and the false choice (we cannot have A/C unless we cut teacher pay) are already being put in place.

Let the games begin!!!

By the way 9:30, I love the threat about electing different school officials. Correct me if I am wrong but did we not just have an election April 5th?? Guess how many votes were caste for the winners??? Look at the great concern from the public!!

Zimmerman – 1309
Collins – 1292
Heyde – 1300
Borrelli – 1155

The last three on the list have 44 months remaining on their terms. I bet they are really shaking from your threat!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nice spin, but the point of this post is exactly what it purports to be: years of inept management – going back to at least 1997 – of what has grown to $70 million annual budgets that still leave two schools without A/C and with antiquated heating systems, yet provide no definite plans for correcting the situation other than to send kids home when it gets too hot. And the 4th highest administrator comp, the 25th highest teacher comp, and nothing close to those rankings in measurable student performance.


As to your point about this past April’s election, we agree that the turnout was pathetic. But there’s another one coming up in April 2013 that involves the majority seats currently held by Fioretto, Lawson, Uhlig and Zimmerman – so the possibility of a significant change in how things are done at D-64 is a definite possibility, assuming the current occupants don’t find religion in the meantime.

Concerned Mom….Carpenter is a one story school. Just sayin.

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