Public Watchdog.org

D-64 Board Charges Taxpayers To Pay Parents…And Themselves?

07.21.14

The main reason we have boards of elected officials overseeing all those paid-to-play bureaucrats who operate our various local governmental bodies on a day-to-day basis is to ensure that the taxpayers who pay the bills are getting fair value for their money.

One of the reasons we have been highly critical of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 is because it keeps on hammering the taxpayers with ever-escalating teacher and administrator pay, and ever-escalating per-pupil costs, without any commensurate increase in student performance as measured by those standardized tests our teachers and administrators love to hate.

Worse yet, D-64 is the principal “feeder” school system for Maine South, which has seen its academic ranking drop from the top-5 around 1990 to the mid-20s – suggesting that D-64’s under-performance may be contributing to Maine South’s decline, despite the latter’s own escalating teacher, administrator and per-pupil costs.

Against that backdrop comes last week’s flip-flop decision by the D-64 Board to have the taxpayers pick up the tab for $500,000 of Chromebooks for its middle school (grades 6-8) students. That half-million is in addition to the cost of Chromebooks and other tech hardware for grades K-5 added to the taxpayers’ tab in April in connection with Board approval of the District’s “1:1 Technology Initiative.”

According to the District’s announcement on its website, this Chromebook-fueled initiative is “a further investment in student learning.” But don’t expect the Board to identify any measurable return on investment (“ROI”) from this latest $500,000 tech buy. D-64 has a long history of disdain for objective performance measurements, so this Board wasn’t about to require measurable ROIs for which its members, the administrators, and/or the teachers might be held accountable.

Shifting this $500,000 expense from middle school parents to the taxpayers at large ostensibly was based on the July 14, 2014 Updated Recommendation of D-64’s new Director of Innovation & Instructional Technology, Mary Jane Warden. Like almost everything that comes out of D-64 these days, however, it reads like it was quarried, cut, polished and set by the District’s minister of disinformation, Bernadette Tramm: phrases like “an exciting 21st Century Learning Plan” and a “21st century learning ecosystem” with “appropriate controls [on Chromebook use] in order to establish classroom and cultural expectations” are classic Tramm-a-ganda.

“Learning ecosystem”? “Cultural expectations”? C’mon!

Back on April 28th the Board approved the 1:1 Learning Initiative by a one-vote majority: Heyde, Zimmerman, Lee and Cameron v. Borrelli, Paterno and Collins. For reasons that appear to have been arbitrary and purely political rather than policy-based, however, that resolution included “cost-sharing” that hit the taxpayers for the cost of the Grades K-5 devices but had middle school parents paying for their kids’ Chromebooks.  And with typical D-64 secrecy the relevant portion of those meeting minutes discloses nothing – NADA – about either the total cost of the new devices or the costs to the taxpayers and parents, respectively.

The “political” nature of that arbitrary April baby-splitting exercise, however, was confirmed with last Monday’s do-over vote, which demonstrates how D-64 blithely increases spending just because it has the money to do so.

In this case, a mid-year budget review by the District’s $200,000/year wonder girl, business manager Rebecca Allard, revealed that the year-end deficit she had projected had somehow morphed into a surplus of $1.7 million. Given the spend-and-spend-some-more mindset at D-64, the effect of that kind of revelation was tantamount to a drunk stumbling out of a tavern with an empty wallet, only to discover a crumpled hundred in his coat pocket.

So with that newly-found $1.7 million burning a hole in their pockets, the Board members promptly shifted the responsibilty for that $500,000 of middle school Chromebooks from the parents to the taxpayers by a 5-1 vote (Zimmerman absent).

Dan Collins cast the only “no” vote and was the only Board member who expressed any concern about the taxpayers funding what effectively are $322-per-Chromebook gifts to middle school parents. Notably, Collins also was the only Board member to identify himself as the parent of kids in D-64. So his “no” votes back in April and last week not only could be viewed as pro-taxpayer but also were against his own economic self-interest, to the tune of $644 worth of Chromebooks for his two kids.

Collins’ disclosure and his “no” votes got us thinking about the other Board members who have children in D-64 schools, specifically whether 5 of them may have had conflicts of interest when they voted last Monday to shift Chromebook costs from parents to the taxpayers – and maybe also back in April when 4 of them voted to place the costs of the Grades K-5 computing devices on the taxpayers instead of the parents.

Shouldn’t those Board members with children in the District’s schools have abstained from voting in favor of something that would directly benefit them economically?  Or, at the very least, shouldn’t Board members announce before voting that they have children in the District’s schools and will directly benefit financially by how they cast their votes?  Isn’t that what the taxpayers deserve from their elected officials?

Didn’t these Board members comprehend the possibility of such conflicts of economic interest, or is it that they just didn’t care?

It can’t be that they considered $322 per Chromebook such a nominal amount as to be irrelevant, especially with Borrelli quoted in a Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article as having “felt the addition of the fee of the computer on top of student fees was going to be a burden for some folks.” (“District 64 to pay for student Chromebooks,” July 18) Unfortunately, he produced no data or other evidence to prove that what he “felt” was actually true and not just misplaced empathy for the greedy impersonating the needy.

If there are parents who truly can’t afford to buy Chromebooks for their middle school kids, why not let them petition the District for financial assistance and demonstrate the legitimacy of their hardship claims with sworn financial statements and signed income tax returns? Or let the Elementary Learning Foundation (“ELF”) help out?

But, as best as we can tell, means-testing wasn’t even discussed – perhaps because these Board members are afraid of the vocal minority who demand free Chromebooks because the $13,000+ per kid worth of education they’re already getting for the $2-3-4-5,000 they pay in property taxes to D-64 just isn’t a good enough ROI for them.  And maybe because these Board members are simply dismissive of the battered and beleaguered taxpayers for whom THEY are supposed to be looking out.

Or have these Board members simply become so financially jaded that they view $500,000 as just another slice off a cut loaf that won’t be missed?

To read or post comments, click on title.

27 comments so far

Dr. Paterno….hello??…..Dr. Paterno?!?!?!

Boy, you and Char sure can pick em!!!

How many kids does he have in D64??

EDITOR’S NOTE: Let’s see here: if the “right” vote in April and last week was “no,” then Paterno and Borrelli were 1 for 2. Meanwhile, Heyde was 0 for 2, Lee was 0 for 2, Cameron was 0 for 1, Zimmerman was 0 for 1, new-guy Johnson was 0 for 1, and only Collins was 2 for 2.

I have lived in Park Ridge for almost 20 years, and put two children through D-64 and Maine South. During that time I have seen the decline in rankings, even if I could not tell whether the actual quality of education declined commensurately. I also watched (and experienced) D-64 implementing a number of pilot programs and full blown initiatives which the administration and the board promoted as the next best thing in curriculum or some other educator-speak trend. Never did D-64 set any goals or performance standards by which it, or parents, or the community, could determine with any credibility whether the program or initiative actually worked.

From what I have read about this 1 to 1 plan, it sounds like nothing more than a marketing plan for just the latest version of the next best thing, with no concrete goals or objectives by which to measure its success or failure (although D-64 never admits failure, even as it dumps one plan for another and then another).

Thanks for writing this post and for raising the question of conflict of interest, which I never thought of.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re welcome re the writing, but the conflict insight was entirely Collins-inspired.

I knew your reply before you even posted it. It is what you always do…….compare him to a group that you think sucks!! That is like saying that I am the best hockey player in Peru.

The fact is when looking at the policies and general positions that you (and Char) support, this guy has been a complete failure. You love to say how the twitter comments and the social agenda does not matter. Well it appears that is all he is. The other part you (and Char) thought was there was an illusion or, more likely, it was never even there.

It appears you are heading down the same path with Mel. You support him and she shares an office with him while he has violated all those positions and policies (spending, taxes, transparency, etc).

Do her kids attend D64?

EDITOR’S NOTE: When stuck with a circus of midgets, one has to rely on the taller ones whether one likes it or not.

You’re also misguided (or duplicitous) in pairing this editor with Char Foss-Eggemann because she is an active card-carrying Republican while this editor dislikes most Illinois Republicans (Ms. Foss-Eggemann being one of a very few exceptions) almost as much as he dislikes Illinois Democrats.

Our support for Thillens is not unlike that for Paterno, except the midgets in the Springfield circus are not just incompetent but also corrupt. So voting for Marty Moylan is effectively voting for Mike Madigan and even more corruption – which transcends mere stupidity and moves into the realm of insanity.

Not that you can actually understand or accept that, of course.

If four of the five “yes” votes (Borrelli, Lee, Paterno and Johnson) for shifting the $500K of Chromebooks to the taxpayers have children in Grades 6-8, would their votes be invalid because of the conflict of interest?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good question, for which we don’t have an answer. However, if nobody formally challenges the legal authority of those votes, they will stand by default.

What did voters think was gong to happen when Vicki Lee was running for School Board. She was the Effing PTO President for Carpenter.

You know, groups who try to get money for their little iPad, iPhone owning kids, who think they now deserve “free” (taxpayer paid for) Chromebooks. This is 100% on the voters for electing someone like that to the School Board.

Here’s her quote from a campaign site: “One of my strengths is working in groups and brainstorming on best practices. If elected, I would look at the line items in the budget and analyze where we can reduce costs in each school, without impacting educational quality.”

What she means, is how we suck more money from the taxpayers so I can brag to other public school parents what she’s doing.

Vicki must have realized that those fundraisers are a waste of time, when the real money is within the whole taxpayer base.

Another PTO success story.

And 7:55 and 5:43, wtf are you talking about. Paterno voted AGAINST it, and Char is on the Effing library board, so why isn’t your attack against your left wing leeches?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Let’s be careful with the rhetoric, because there are plenty of “leeches” on both wings.

The taxpayers are easy targets because basically the unelected bureaucrats don’t give a rat’s derriere about them; and most elected officials don’t do much better, even if they talk a good game.

Probably the best approach to getting some accountability – fiscal and student performance – from D-64 (and D-207) would be to have NO parents of those districts’ students on the boards. Boards without parents would eliminate the unenlightened self-interest that some of these folks bring to their board service (e.g.,spare no expense if it benefits their own kids), and it would also eliminate any perceived threat of retaliation by teachers/administrators against the board member’s kid(s) if the board member says or does something the teachers/administrators don’t like.

It’s sad to even think about that option. But 20 years or so of watching various elected bobbleheads rubber-stamp virtually every idea any administrator comes up with, however insipid or cockamamie it might be, and without even setting any performance standards against which to measure its utility and success, suggests that parent board members are more problem than solution.

This is a disgusting conflict of interest and another reason why the school board must include more taxpayers who don’t benefit from the schools.

I am losing faith in Drs. Borrelli and Paterno. To say they are “1 for 2” doesn’t reverse this half-million dollar boondoggle.

You might say they were against it before they were for it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Agreed, although in rating performance “1 for 2” is undeniably better than is “0 for 2” – even if the end result is equally bad.

Paterno voted against it?? The vote was 5-1 with only Collins’ voting “no”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We assume that reference was to Paterno’s “no” vote on April 28.

Ok but April 28 is a hell of a reach considering the topic of this thread, that being a vote that took place last week. 8:08, do you just want me to ignore that yes vote??

As to my attack, it is not so much about the vote per se. It I’d more about what was sold to the public and the “sellers” compared to the results. Put another way the “left wing leeches” did what they said the would do. Paterno et al turned out to be full of it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: None of the leftist “leeches” campaigned on the platform that they would squander the taxpayers’ money, be mindless rubber-stamps of whatever the education “professionals” propose, hold nobody accountable for anything, grab their ankles to accommodate the PREA, and let the overall quality and ranking of the D-64 schools decline. They said all the “right” things, then went in the tank after they won.

And if Heyde, Zimmerman, Lee and Cameron didn’t beat Borrelli, Paterno and Collins on that April 28th vote, there might not have even been a July 14 vote.

The public can decide to vote for anyone based on whatever criteria (no kids in district for example) they choose. Are you suggestion that parents with kids in the district not be allowed to run…..period????

EDITOR’S NOTE: No…period!

My “leeches” description was specific to those that get a very high cost education for free, and then want even more blood out of taxpayers. “Leeches” refer to people on the board, who benefit monetarily from their votes.

So 11:16am, your whole argument with Paterno is that he is too fiscally liberal or that you think he’s a faux conservative? I’m confused.

I guess that makes sense if you are the guy saying that Thillens isn’t what he says he is as a conservative, so you prefer Madigan-owned Moylan. So, is it rhetorical strategy or that we do not have enough true conservatives?

If one candidate is correct 50% of the time and the other is correct 10%, do you prefer the 10% candidate to make a point?? I’m confused.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It is a puzzlement.

Based on the information the parents of middle school children were provided with from the district regarding the original parent funding purchase and ownership of the Chromebooks, it is apparent that the district chose to pay for the Chromebooks so they could control when, where and how the Chromebooks are used.

D64 informed some middle school parents who spoke to the recently hired technology director who had zero input on the wrongly approved 1:1 technology initiative-that despite the fact that the parents were paying for the Chromebook and would have ownership of the computer (as clearly stated in communications to middle school families), D64 was going to install software on the computer that would limit the computer to one log in, track the person using the computer, and limit what websites could be accessed with the parent paid for and owned computers. Maybe legal council informed D64 they could not do that to an asset they do not own.

At this point and based on the fact that the middle schools will still be using textbooks, it is unclear as to what this costly 1:1 initiative is supposed to accomplish in the way of improving education except to give teachers a tool that may make their lives easier.

The middle schools already have computer labs and computer carts filled with Apple technology. The classrooms also have smart boards. So just what will these Chromebooks provide that the teachers and students do not already have access to? Why didn’t the technology committee and D64, at least the 4 board members who approved this initiative, clearly explain the educational benefits?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good points. And, once again in typical D-64 fashion, no measurable educational performance goals have been set so that the District, parents and taxpayers can determine whether this 1:1 initiative is legit or just the flavor of the month.

Let’s see; it’s a conflict if anybody with kids is on the school board, or if anybody who values the Library is on the Library board, or if anyone who’s a senior makes decisions financially affecting seniors, etc. God forbid we have any women making decisions that affect women. Seems to me it would be nice if elected or appointed bodies actually reflected the composition of the electorate, given how difficult it is for most pols to imagine themselves in another citizen’s situation. We need parents and non-parents, moms and dads, nuclear (or nucular) families and single parents on the board. In that case, self-interest for group A would be canceled out by self-interest for group B. But when government is held hostage by people who have a basic disbelief in the notion that government can be a force for good, it’s not surprising some of your readers see every advantage to any members of the public as conflict of interest or outright corruption. And that inflammatory exaggeration desensitizes people to the real conflicts of interest running amok out there. Kudos to Collins for voting his principles over his personal experience, but that doesn’t ipso facto mean other parents on the board voted “yes” just to get their hands on the $300 Chromebook.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This has nothing to do with anyone’s belief or disbelief “in the notion that government can be a force for good” – although we can see how that red herring issue might concern the more-government-is-the-solution-to-every-problem crowd.

Conflict of interest standards are designed to address situations in which a decision someone makes in their official capacity either affects or is affected by his or her personal interests or those of a family member, friend, or associate. So it’s not only about a Board member voting to get a free Chromebook or two for him/her kids, but also for his/her friends – or to pander to those greedy folks who beef incessantly about being charged a few hundred dollars of fees while getting $13,000 (or $26,000, or $39,000) a year in free education for their kids.

This is to 3:52 PM: What bothers me the most about how the Board initially assessed half the 1:1 costs to taxpayers, then tagged us with the other half of those costs, is that none of the six Board members (Collins excluded) even raised the question of whether they might have a conflict, or the question of the public policy considerations for dumping these costs on the taxpayers. In music, we would call that “tone deaf.”

The argument that the District needed to “control” the Chromebooks and could not do that if they were owned by parents sounds like a lame justification for a decision the bureaucrats had already made because they were tired of the constant carping about fees by parents like Kathy Ranalli and did not want to give them another reason to carp.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 20+ years of observing local government here in Park Ridge, we can count on one hand the number of bureaucrats in all four main branches (City, Park Dist., D-64 and D-207) who talked AND ACTED as if they cared one whit about the taxpayers.

And the reason for that is simple: THEY have a conflict of interest, most notably when it comes to pay increases. For example, by leveraging the number of taxpayers who AREN’T government employees, the police officer/fireman/teacher/etc. can get a $1,000 raise while his/her property taxes increase maybe $20, at most.

That might explain why public employee unions and their members rarely, if ever, actively opposed tax hikes and tax hike referenda for their own governmental employers.

You miss my point. I’m strongly in favor of Ethics Ordinances, have lobbied for same, and believe the former mayor’s active opposition to one is a big reason Mayor Dave deserves his position. However, you could make the case that there is monetary gain for anyone who sits on a public body and gets anything from that public body they’d otherwise have to pay for. For example, without a Library, if you want to read a novel you’d have to spend your after-tax money at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Half-Price Books. So if you get books to read for free, you’re saving money of your own at the taxpayers’ expense. The browsing experience, rather than having to buy book after book sight unseen, is also free to you, as is the librarian’s help in finding what you want — or as free as tax-supported services can be. Same goes for sewers, parks, police protection, pools, firefighters, snow plowing, etc. Anyone in a position to approve expenditures for these services who also benefits from those services is unethical, correct?

I have it: To make sure nobody living in Park Ridge makes any decisions about Park Ridge — the only way to ensure that no “decision someone makes in their official capacity either affects or is affected by his or her personal interests or those of a family member, friend or associate” — let’s turn the whole mess over to…um….

EDITOR’S NOTE: WE didn’t MISS “your point,” “your point” is stupid verging on moronic. But since we doubt you’re really that stupid, we have to assume that this particular conflict of interest – and maybe others – work to your benefit; and, therefore, you’re just defending your own personal self-interest behind the curtain of anonymity we permit.

Amen ANON ON 07.22.14 2:19 PM. Maybe a Board member or two will make an appearance here on PW like they have in the past and answer your valid questions:
“So just what will these Chromebooks provide that the teachers and students do not already have access to? Why didn’t the technology committee and D64, at least the 4 board members who approved this initiative, clearly explain the educational benefits?”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because it’s not about actually GETTING results, it’s about doing something that LOOKS like it will produce results – with a chrome “bullet” instead of a silver one.

I think you missed the whole reason of why it was a district purchase versus a parent purchase. It has to do with control of the device. The school district purchases books that probably on average cost $200-$300 per student, in middle school. I am estimating based on researching a couple of them for my kids.

You need to think of these devices as books and who controls them. If you lose a book, parents pay for them. If you destroy the chrome book, parents will pay for them.

You don’t criticize the district buying books? Well maybe you do, but nevertheless, same concept.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If “control” of the device was really so important, then why did the Board originally (in April) vote to charge parents for Chromebooks? And why is “control” of the Chromebooks by D-64 – instead of control by the parents – all that important?

Good point, PW. I didn’t hear anything about “control” until the extra $500K dropped out of the sky for them to spend. Speaking for myself and people like me who have put our kids through private schools (but don’t expect a rebate, and don’t object to paying reasonable taxes for good public schools), “control” isn’t worth $500K.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you watch the video of the July 14 meeting, you’ll hear a lot of yada, yada, yada – punctuated with the occasional “control” without any serious explanation of how any loss of “control” (e.g., to the kids’ parents) could/will adversely impact the educational mission in a way that can’t reasonably and inexpensively be worked around. And, of course, no challenging questions, practical or policy-oriented, from the D-64 Board members, who seem mesmerized anytime a Staff member speaks.

6:46 pm-control by the district in this case is not about whether or not the device gets destroyed. And there is no comparison between controlling textbooks and controlling a computer. The district will insure the chromebook against damage or loss just like a smart parent would have bought the insurance if we had had to pay for the chromebooks.

Control in this case is about limiting this computer/tablet to one log in per machine so essentially one user. The district could not do this if they do not own it. Control is about the district and the teachers installing software that will track every move that is made on the device. The teachers/district for some reason want to know what time your student logs in, how long the work takes, how long the student spends on the work, what websites the student accesses, etc. Personally, don’t know why the teachers want some of this information and frankly don’t think some of the information they are tracking is any of their business.

And from what I have seen, read and heard this is “chromebook for every student” even though there are plenty of Apple technology products at the middle schools is being driven by some of the teachers. Again why do the teachers pushing the costly initiative want it? Will is make the students more productive, will they learn and retain information better? Or will the chromebooks just make the teachers’-who are paid very handsomely to work-lives easier.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We wouldn’t care if it made the teachers’ jobs easier – so long as it measurably improved student performance in a way that the value-add justified the expense. But we’ll never know that because there don’t appear to have been any objective (or even subjective?) performance goals identified to this 1:1 initiative – other than how new and nifty it is, and how everybody else is doing it.

The typical D-64 nonsense we’ve been hearing for the past 20 years.

Control of the Chrome book became an issue because if the parent purchased it on their own the district could not restrict the functions included or the website usage. For example, Chrome book can be used for emails, text messages, surfing the internet, playing games. etc..

If you purchased from D64, they were going to completely restrict the Chrome book only to items needed for school…i.e. google documents, D64 website, power point, etc.

The school district was then going to ask parents that purchased chromebooks outside of D64 to restrict the Chromebooks to the same functionality as ones purchased from D64. The Chromebook was to be brought to the school to have all of the needed software put on it, plus the restrictions as well.

That is were the problem lies. Having to restrict and monitor non purchased D64 Chromebooks upset a ton of parents because then these Chromebooks couldn’t be used for other functions that the parent might want to use them for (or siblings, etc.).

EDITOR’S NOTE: But that very same “problem” was going to lie with the original April decision of having the parents of the Grades 6-8 kids pay the freight, so this appears to be caught-with-your-hand-in-the-cookie-jar rationalization.

And assuming your account of this decision-making is entirely accurate, it illustrates once again the D-64 government/bureaucrat mindset – “Why spend $25/50/100 of the taxpayers’ money to outfit each Chromebook with ‘all of the needed software…plus the restrictions’ when we can spend $322 of the taxpayers’ money for the whole Chromebook?” – that keeps our taxes and teachers/administrators spiraling upward irrespective of student performance.

As a parent, if I am buying the computer the district should not be able to restrict who uses the computer and how they use is and what they use if for when the computer is not at school. I think many parents were willing to challenge the district on this issue. This is a significant issue and one the technology committee and the district should have considered before they voted to have the parents supply a computer the district wanted to control.

But as stated earlier-it appears more important for the district and the teachers to install software on a computer to track a students every move on that computer. Why?

And how will the students grades be affected by the computer? Are they going to be graded on how well they know the subject-math, science, history-or how well they know how to use the software and the computer to demonstrate how well they know the subject? Has the district thought about this? Are best practices going to be adopted district wide so each teacher has to follow the same protocol? Some kids may have a complete command of a subject but not be tech savvy. How will this impact their learning and their grade?

And what if the student has trouble logging onto the computer when they are at home because the internet is down or the chromebook is malfunctioning? What are the back up plans so a student can still do the work and not miss out on learning or get a lower grade because the homework is “late”?

And this is not just a $500,000 decision-the district has already committed to buying the technology for grades K-5.

It would also be interesting to know who is selling the chromebooks to D64. Are they a friend or relation of someone within D64? Some parents have done research and found the chromebook online for around $250 per unit-not the $300+ figure quoted by the district. Why is the district figure 25% higher?

There seem to be a lot of unanswered significant issues to warrant the board reversing its decision on this initiative for the coming school year. Go back and figure out what the goals and objectives are of this initiative and how will education be improved for the students-not the teachers. This is too costly an initiative and the stakes are pretty high for a district where the educational quality and standing seem to be falling.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you listen to the meeting video, they’re talking about the kids not even taking home the Chromebooks at night but, instead, leaving them at the schools – which prompted Tony Borrelli to inquire about the extra cost of electricity. Seriously. Spending an additional $500,000 on Chromebooks isn’t a problem, but watch out for that extra $100/mo to ComEd!

There will also be back-up “loaner” Chromebooks for left-at-homes and malfunctions.

One explanation for any difference between the alleged $250 per Chromebook and the $322 D-64 model could be the software and security apps. At the other end of the explanation spectrum is that the District is paying a premium price and somebody(ies) at the District might just coincidentally get some Bears or Hawks tickets, a box of steaks, a case of champagne, or some other token of “appreciation” somewhere down the road. Or one of many explanations in between those two ends of the explanation spectrum.

But we didn’t find any evidence from a quick Google search that D-64 conducted any type of competitive bidding for these Chromebooks. The closest we could come was the D-64 Technology Overview (as reported in the May 29, 2014 edition of the “Carpenter [School] Courier”), which included the following:

“We are pleased to announce that after reviewing several Chromebook models, District 64 has selected the Del l 11 Chromebook for its 1:1 purchase for next year. This is the same model selected by District 207. To get the best pricing, District 64 will be purchasing all the Chromebooks together for all students, and will prepare them over the summer to have them ready for the start of school.”

We don’t see the words “competitive bidding” in there…do you?

Your blog entry was to inform about your readers about the tax consequences of the board’s decision. My purpose of my relating the control issue was to communicate how the money issue came to exist.

I don’t know what the right answer is from a school district perspective or from a taxing body perspective. I would prefer that the school used Apple items (just like some of the other people who have posted).

EDITOR’S NOTE: And our response was to suggest that “control” is a sham issue being raised now only to justify the Board’s decision to spend even more taxpayer money rather than incur even greater wrath of the “Free, free, free!” crowd that has been beefing about fees – even before the possibility of Grade 6-8 parents having to buy their own kids’ Chromebooks surfaced.

It’s not really about Apple, or Chromebooks, or even actual learning improvement – as demonstrated by the lack of any published objective standards for determining whether this grand 1:1 Learning Initiative will have any value at all. It’s likely just another attempt for D-64 to sell gullible parents and clueless taxpayers on activity rather than measurable achievement in the lead-up to the 2016 teacher union negotiations and a possible 2017 tax increase referendum.

No mention of competitive bidding? Isn’t this as important or not more important than conflict of interest?

And the computers will not be staying at school. The students will be bringing them home to use and expected to bring them to school each day fully charged-just like at Maine South. D64 is not paying for the minimal amount of additional electricity to charge them.

Attached is the “Commitment Pledge” we just received that we have to sign before getting a Chromebook.

https://docs.google.com/a/maine207south.org/document/d/1VUIE922sThKMb00blg0Yr4ZiqNDUuu9nBTcXCnt0e-s/edit?pli=1

The opening statement of this pledge is offensive-as is the reminder that what you do on the computer is not private and can be viewed any time by the teachers and administrators. Again there is no evidence that this initiative is an effective learning tool but really an expensive experiment.

EDITOR’S NOTE: At this point we haven’t researched whether D-64 even HAS a “competitive bidding” requirement, so the absence of competitive bidding might be unremarkable given D-64’s history of quasi-institutionalized unaccountability – while there does appear to be a REAL conflict of interest for any D-64 Board member who voted to have the taxpayers pay for his/her kid’s Chromebook.

We see nothing in that pledge that obligates a student to take his/her Chromebook home every night; and we reiterate that the discussion on July 14 strongly suggested that they would not be going home every night, or even many nights.

7:42 here — you usually resort to name-calling when somebody’s got ya, as I believe I did. But thanks for the compliment; doubting that I’m that stupid is one of the nicest things you’ve ever said about me. And for the record, no, I am not nor ever have been involved in D64 or D207 except as a hapless parent/taxpayer.

to 11:31 a.m. – Excellent post, and scary, too: all the scenarios you conjure are very possible. In particular, I can see the legit “my C-book didn’t boot up” being heard as “my dog ate my homework.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: We wrote that “‘your point’ is stupid verging on moronic” – but you can consider that “name-calling” if you need to reinforce your sense of victimhood at our hands.

And we don’t believe for a minute you are or are not who/what you claim to be, just as we don’t believe such claims by any anonymous commentator. If you want credibility on that count, you’ll need to come out of the closet.

Bullet point one-I will bring my device to school each day with a full charge.

Bullet point two-I will ensure my device is in a safe place when not in use.

The word “bring” suggests it won’t left at school. And if they are being required to do homework on the chromebook seems to me it will likely leave school.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bullet point one: “Bring” suggests nothing more than it will be brought to school IF it is taken home – which the discussion on July 14 strongly suggested would NOT be a nightly occurrence.

Bullet point two: Are the classrooms – or lockers – not “a safe place”? Because we understand that’s where they will be spending most of their evenings and weekends.

Speaking as Dave Schmidt, taxpayer, not Mayor Dave, I would prefer that the Board use this surplus to reduce its tax levy by $1.7 million to give us all a break instead of finding ways to spend it.

More people would come out of the closet, as you put it, if you didn’t immediately napalm them by twisting everything they say. Take my word for my not being a D64 or D207 board member or not, I don’t care. My point stands.
But is it really possible that D64 doesn’t have a competitive bidding process as a mandated policy?
O.M.G. I would think this would be State-mandated with the questionable exception of consultant/creative services. It is for the Park District and the City. Why not D64? And what about D207?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, your point stands. But if you don’t have the guts to make it under your own name, look in the mirror rather than blame the folks who let you do so anonymously.

I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else encountering issues with your site.

It appears as if some of the written text on your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and
let me know if this is happening to them as well?
This might be a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen before.
Cheers

EDITOR’S NOTE: We suspect it’s your browser.



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