“Secured Vestibules” Will Not Make D-64 Schools $5 Million Safer


No less a genius than Benjamin Franklin once opined that: “He who chooses security over freedom deserves neither.”

And no less a wartime leader than Franklin Delano Roosevelt noted that: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

But both of those sentiments were MIA last Monday (11.16.15) night at the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board meeting, and apparently at the last several Board meetings, as the D-64 “Chicken Littles” – a/k/a, the D-64 Board and administration members – tried to convince whomever would listen that each of the District’s seven schools and everyone inside them are in imminent danger from (pick your favorite paranoia): ISIS suicide bombers, unstable non-custodial parents, bullied introverts with access to semi-automatic weapons, or miscellaneous unidentified bogeymen.

Instead, we got repeated displays of what no less a political philosopher than Edmund Burke warned about: “No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”

And, yes, the fearmongers did invoke “Sandy Hook.” More than once.

But, better yet, they also invoked the image of Laurie Dann – the emotionally-troubled young woman who, in 1988, walked into the Hubbard Woods Elementary School in Winnetka with three pistols tucked into her clothing and proceeded to shoot one child to death and wound five others.

But the D-64 tag team of Board president Tony Borrelli and Supt. Laurie Heinz – seemingly operating from Rahm Emanuel’s playbook – don’t appear to want to let any crisis, real or imagined, go to waste.  So they are doing their best to stampede the herd (a/k/a the rest of the D-64 Board) into throwing multi-millions of taxpayer dollars at “security” projects that won’t really make our schools secure, including the “secured vestibules” that have now come down in price to a bargain-basement $5.1 million.

Why spend $5.1 million when, as we understand it, each school is currently supposed to be on lockdown during the school day, with the only entry point being a locked main entrance through which only approved visitors can be “buzzed in.”

What’s “insecure” about that?

We’re still not sure, even after watching the “secured vestibules” portion – from 57:15 to 3:24:35 – of the meeting video. But from the gist of the comments made by the Chicken Littles, the schools aren’t the fortresses some folks might like them to be.

But here’s a most curious fact: despite D-64’s teachers being, along with the children, the most direct beneficiaries of whatever “security” the $5.1 million secured vestibules can provide, their union – a/k/a the Park Ridge Education Association (“PREA”) – has failed/refused to formally endorse them.

Without explanation.

You can watch (at 2:11:00 – 2:11:47 of the meeting video) the current president of the PREA, Erin Breen, say that the PREA has no official position on the plan. And several minutes later you can watch the most recent PREA past president (and current Lincoln Middle School teacher) Andy Duerkop state that schools can’t be made “safe” before questioning whether secured vestibules are the best way to spend $5 million.

Gee, do you think the PREA’s refusal to go on record in support of $5 million worth of half-baked secured vestibules has anything to do with the fact that it’s going to be asking taxpayers for a new multi-year, multi-million dollar contract next year?

If so, you may be starting to understand how local government works.

But if the teachers give so little concern to the secured vestibules that they aren’t willing to jeopardize their next contract by formally supporting them, why did a 4 (Borrelli, Zimmerman, Lee and Johnson) to 3 (Paterno, Eggemann and Sotos) majority vote to spend $600,000 to move forward on their design and whatever building additions/renovations may be needed to accommodate them?

Could it be because the D-64 Board and Administration has been so unsuccessful in moving the needle of objectively-measurable student performance that they need a “Look, there goes Elvis!” distraction?

If so, what could be a better distraction than panic-peddling various forms of domestic terrorism (Sandy Hook, Laurie Dann, etc.), especially when you’ve got parents like Jeff Schneider telling the Board to “Do anything in your power, regardless of cost, to protect these schools and our children”; and Paul Sheehan asking the Board to adopt a policy of “Zero tolerance for risk to our babies while within our schools”?

There were a few voices of reason, however, including residents Joan Sandrik and Diane Bresler; and Board member Dathan Paterno, who raised enough questions about the process, the data, the “expert” opinions, and the manipulativeness of the secured vestibule advocates to stop any such project dead in its tracks if making the right long-term, cost-effective decision was the principal goal.

But it’s not.  And it rarely has been at D-64.

Ironically, the kind of spare-no-expense/accept-no-risk nuttiness voiced by Board members, administrators, the District’s architects, and some of those citizen speakers ignores the fact that the $5 million spent on secured vestibules is basically WASTED if not accompanied by metal detectors.

Without metal detectors at every secured vestibule, any bullied student can walk into the school with a backpack loaded with the same three handguns that Laurie Dann carried into that Winnetka school.

Any over-stressed, homicidal non-custodial dad can walk in with the same Bushmaster XM15-E2S stashed under his trench coat, and the same Glock 20SF stuck in his waistband, that Adam Lanza carried into Sandy Hook Elementary.

And any disaffected soccer mom with too many toys in her attic can stroll right in wearing a suicide vest under her North Face parka filled with ten or twenty pounds of ball bearings, like Hasna Ait Boulahcen may (or may not) have been wearing when she was killed in that Saint-Denis apartment.

But none of the Chicken Littles want to discuss making metal detectors part of the secured vestibule project. Metal detectors are serious business, a lot more serious than this Board and this Administration is willing to get about “security.”

Look! There goes Elvis!


To read or post comments, click on title.


11 comments so far

You hit the nail on the head with metal detectors. Without them, the district is spitting into to the wind. But recommend them and the district starts to look like the CPS battling gangbangers.

And if PREA isn’t recommending them, you can be sure they aren’t necessary.

If the front doors of the schools are locked and people have to be buzzed in, doesn’t that count as secured vestibules?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently not, although we’ve never heard of anybody busting through the locked doors. Maybe these secured vestibules will be like sally ports for people – although we haven’t heard them described that way.

You’ve got to love it when people say to spare no expense on something, in this case school security that won’t even be secure.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s why we have to wonder, if secured vestibules are actually worth $5 million, why not add another $50,000 – $100,000 for 1 or 2 metal detectors at each of those vestibules.

So you would rather risk kids being killed than spend $5 million for secured entryways? Sounds just like a Teabagger. You are despicable.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You sound like the guy who started carrying a nickel in his pocket to protect him from being stomped by an elephant and insists it’s working because he hasn’t been stomped.

Opinions vary.

The current configuration of each school is such that when you get buzzed in you do not enter the office. Instead you are in the hallway in most cases right next to unlocked classroom doors.
In condo complexes even though each individual condo has its own deadbolt lock there is usually a glass vestibule in the lobby and no one can get in unless allowed in or buzzed in. Some businesses like jewelry stores have similar systems. Schools are just looking to construct similar areas. Not a perfect fortress but a better system than currently exists.

EDITOR’S NOTE: So what if “you do not enter the office” after getting buzzed in? Are they indiscriminately buzzing in anybody/everybody who can’t be trusted to go to the office instead or rambling around the building? If so, THAT’s the problem – and fixing it doesn’t require spending $5 million.

Schools are not condo complexes or jewelry stores, many of which don’t have vestibules – secure or otherwise. Even in condo complexes that do have vestibules (e.g., Bristol Court), the vestibule serves primarily to protect the mailboxes and intercom system from the elements.

Absolutely disgusting waste of money, just to make parents feel the illusion of safety.

Why doesn’t this go to referendum????????????

Borelli- What happened to you?

This does nothing to secure the children at recess, where they are completely out running around and free from close supervision.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re guessing Borrelli decided to drink the Kool-Aid and “go native” when he realized he would catch less flak from the taxpayers for stiffing them then he would get from teachers and administrators for challenging them.

Plus the path of least resistance is to just rubber-stamp whatever the professional educators tell you…because as Supt. Heinz constantly reminds everyone, everything she does is “For your children.”

Let me apologize in advanced cuz I’m goin’ off topic!!

One of the main ideas (if not THE main idea!!) of the holiday lights fund is things such as this should not be paid for with taxpayer dollars but should rather be funded by efforts such as the holiday fund. That is right isn’t it?? I mean capra’s central theme was “private charity and good works of the people, not government, make the difference”, right?

So why is it that virtually all day (so far) today there have been Park District trucks and PD employees at Hodges Park putting up Christmas lights?? I mean doesn’t this violate one of the main points you have stated?? I guess the use of government funds for lights on Park Land is OK. So as we enjoy this years lights (by the way I saw them last night, unfinished, and they look FANTASTIC!!) just remember the taxpayer paid for the lights in Hodges Park.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, the Holiday Lights Fund was founded because (a) the City Council made the decision that it had higher priorities for $40-50K/year than holiday lights; (b) the substitute “volunteer” do-it-yourself lighting effort had become somewhat pathetic; (c) the Chamber of Commerce wanted nothing no part of lighting the commercial areas of the City even though its members would be some of the most direct economic beneficiaries; (d) Chamber members Rick Biagi and John Moran decided Park Ridge deserved better; and (e) in true Capra style, they decided to take the risk – and do the work – to provide something better.

As to why the Park District is lighting Hodges Park, the Park District’s mission is to provide amenities – which its Board and Administration very well may believe includes lighting one or more of its parks for the holidays. We also would expect that Hodges Park can be lit for a fraction of the cost of lighting the commercial areas of Park Ridge.

But just as a few people beefed about the City’s not lighting its commercial areas, feel free to beef to the Park District about its lighting Hodge’s Park if that offends you.

Not beefing. As you well know from prior posts, I have no problem with my tax dollars being used for lights, Hodges Park and everywhere else.

I was just pointing out more inconsistency.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And what “inconsistency” is that?

Schools are not condo complexes or jewelry stores, many of which don’t have vestibules – secure or otherwise. Even in condo complexes that do have vestibules (e.g., Bristol Court), the vestibule serves primarily to protect the mailboxes and intercom system from the elements.

GREAT! Each school currently has a mailbox for parents to drop off items during off hours for the office. And guess what ?! It too needs “protection from the elements”

But a better way to save money (by looking at self interest like you pubdog and the yes people you don’t try to block from commenting is to not pay for any winter salt this year. Great idea -since I don’t own a car and am greedy, care not for my non similarly situated fellow citizen, and want to keep more of my tax dollars than support something that attracts the type of people we want living and spending in town. Heck it’s almost December and only one snow storm and like our schools we have little to no fatalities on our streets in the past years. See it’s easy to find ways to save money!! Just look after your self interest.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t “try to block” anybody from commenting, even chowderheads – as evidenced by our publishing of your latest pearl of logic: equating road salt to secured school vestibules.

That kind of stupidity could qualify you for the school board.

And we’d love to see the results of a vote on that: $5 million for 7 not-very-secured vestibules, or that same $5 million for 20 years worth of road salt?

That kind of stupidity could qualify you for the school board.

And we’d love to see the results of a vote on that: $5 million for 7 not-very-secured vestibules, or that same $5 million for 20 years worth of road salt?

Yes you have been so correct on predicting other referendums including the youth campus and library. Speaking of chowder heads. Of course anyone that disagrees with you is a bad analogy. That is cowardice.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t worry about “predicting…referendums” because the point of them isn’t predictability.

And we don’t put much stock in accusations of “cowardice” from anonymous cowards.

the fact is that most of school shootings happen from within.

When students are armed and walk in with no one stopping them. 6 million wont either.

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>