Mar 27 2015

Who are the people of District 86 Buildings and Grounds, and why should you care?

Published by under Association News

The District 86 school board has discussed the goal of a new pool for Hinsdale Central, a worthy goal for an outdated pool. But let’s be clear: because of the coordinated cost-saving efforts of coaches and Buildings and Grounds crews over many years, that old, outdated pool has had its life prolonged so that is has always been ready for practices and meets. Because it has always been ready for use, the athletes who train under the leadership of Coach Barber in one of the more outdated pools in the state were able to win HC’s 25th total state swimming championship.

What else do the people of B & G do?

In general, they impress coaches and administrators from visiting schools who marvel at the way our B & G crews not only attend to the needs of students and staff, but also at the way they anticipate our needs.

They make sure that all of our equipment is safe for student and faculty use. They know our students, faculty, and staff personally, so the safety of all is a driving concern for them.

They use cost-saving measures to adapt and repurpose worn or broken gymnastics equipment, creating useful, safe training devices.

They earn Aspire & Inspire Awards and Make a Difference Awards because they are nominated by our students in appreciation of their caring, quality work.

Who are the people of B & G more specifically?

One B & G member approached a Drama teacher who was hosting a single-evening performance on the Hinsdale Central Gallery stage and offered to build a fully accessible ramp in order to accommodate one of the teacher’s students who used a heavy motorized wheelchair, so that the student could be on the small stage with his classmates and not merely on the floor below them. The B & G member knew the student and made this offer of intensive labor for a one-night performance.

One is person who created a computer scoring program in the 1990s that is still used by coaches today.

One has been a coach of the Central Bass Fishing team who volunteered the use of his own boat each season.

One has been a boys’ gymnastics coach at Hinsdale South.

Some are members of our community whose children we have taught. Their children are your children’s classmates and teammates.

So let’s be clear: the tradition of excellence in District 86, toward which our talented students strive and which their involved parents loyally support, is kept alive by the excellent teachers, support staff, AND buildings and grounds people who spend their careers working at Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South.

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Mar 26 2015

Editorial: Chicago Tribune

Published by under Association News

From an editorial in the Chicago Tribune today:

“What are the young adults who are being educated in District 86 supposed to make of all of this? We hope their teachers are helping them to weigh this disheartening drama against all those classroom lessons about democracy, free speech and representative government.

It’s the students, after all, who have the greatest stake in the outcome of this election. The school board ought to welcome their participation wholeheartedly.

We hope the members of the Hinsdale South Class of 2015 will learn from the example of their student council president — not from the adults who tried to silence her.”

We couldn’t agree more.


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Mar 26 2015

Manley demeans Buildings and Grounds

Published by under Association News,Board Notes

At the February 9th board meeting, Ms. Manley and the board majority moved forward with plans to restructure and eliminate positions for the D86 Buildings and Grounds crew. Manley and the majority may in fact outsource B&G staff, hiring a massive firm with rotating employees to replace our dedicated B&G staff, many of whom have worked here for years.

With twisted logic,  Manley attempted to explain that firing these employees might be good for them, saying:

It gives the people who work in this department a career path to better themselves”

One of the most important jobs in a school is modeling behaviors and values.  What kind of message does Mrs. Manley send to students by demeaning our Buildings and Grounds staff?  Statements like Ms. Manley’s assume that these are not jobs that hardworking, loyal people aspire to and train for.  Statements like this promote an elitist view of career choices.  Why does someone who has dedicated himself to our community need to “better himself”?

The individuals who help run our schools shouldn’t be seen by board members as needing to “better themselves.”  In fact, if anyone should respect the dedication of these talented professionals who work tirelessly to improve the district, it’s the board members who rely on them to run the day-to-day operations of the district they are supposed to lead.

Ms. Manley’s comments here, along with her more recent harassment of a Hinsdale South student, demonstrate a pattern of disrespect and an inability to model the behaviors the community expects from a board member.

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Mar 25 2015

Stranger Danger

Published by under Association News,Board Notes

The Skoda majority of Skoda, Corcoran, Manley and Cassini are considering replacing veteran Buildings and Grounds employees with outsiders from a company that claims to be able to provide these services at a slightly lower cost. Recently those outsiders have started working shifts as early as 4:00 PM, placing them in the company of all students involved in after-school activities. In other words, the Board has brought strangers into our schools and placed them among our students.

Even if we ignore the fact that at least three of this company’s employees have been arrested for theft in the buildings, and the fact that this is a company that has a pattern of rotating employees often, the bottom line is that the rotating employees of an outsourced company will always be strangers to our district’s students, teachers, and support staff, not the familiar, trustworthy, committed, caring, hard-working, invested people who have made their careers taking care of the people at both schools.

Our Buildings and Grounds people in District 86 capably and effectively anticipate our needs and address them because they know the students, teachers, and support staff. They are an essential part of one of our worthy goals: moving students safely forward toward successful endeavors.

The Skoda majority is choosing to ignore these relationships and the safety of our students to save a few dollars.

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Mar 23 2015

Manley Ducks Community Outrage

Published by under Association News,Board Notes

After harassing a student at Hinsdale South last weekend, Claudia Manley probably thought it would be a rough school board meeting tonight.  Instead of facing the public and maybe even exercising leadership by apologizing, she chose instead to stay away from tonight’s meeting.

While we certainly don’t know the circumstances, we do know that this is not the first time Mrs. Manley has ducked public outrage.  After an hours long closed session in the fall, Mrs. Manley didn’t return to the public portion of the meeting.  At the same meeting, Mr. Cassini simply packed up his bags and walked out of the room – while a community member was mid-sentence.

We also know that Skoda attended a private fundraiser instead of a community forum where he could answer questions about his leadership and his plans for the future.

What’s the trend for the Skoda Majority?  They’ve spent two years creating havoc with no identifiable plan except to bust teachers’ unions.  When the community has questions and demands answers, the Skoda Majority ducks them.


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Mar 23 2015

Skoda uses Public Money to Push Referendum Voting

Published by under Association News

The Skoda Majority of Skoda, Manley, Corcoran and Cassini have voted to use public tax dollars to push their political agenda.  The “newsletter” that will cost almost $10,000 of tax money intended to educate children, is instead going to be used to get out the vote for their ridiculous advisory referendum questions.

Under the guise of “transparency”, the Skoda Majority will once again spend tax dollars to further their own extreme agenda.  The questions are loaded and the Skoda Majority will use the results as support for their arguments.

If there was any doubt about the Skoda Majority’s strategy, those doubts were potentially cleared up this evening when a commenter, identified as 7kidchaos and who also identifies himself as Skoda’s campaign manager, campaigns for the answers to the referendum questions in addition to his candidates.

Their seats on the board shouldn’t allow them to spend tax dollars for their own political research. That is a clear misuse of public funds, no matter what name they use for it.



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Mar 22 2015

Why you should care about Skoda attacking Support Staff

Published by under Association News,Board Notes

One of the most destructive decisions made by Skoda and the board majority was to dramatically alter compensation to support staff, making D86 one of the least attractive districts to work for.  This reckless decision has had a profoundly negative impact on students.

Most of the district’s support staff are paraprofessionals whose job it is to aid students with special needs, our most vulnerable students.   After Skoda and the Board lowered para-professional pay, D86 is struggling to hire and retain qualified candidates.  Turnover among para-professionals has destabilized the services our schools can provide.

When a new aide is hired and then quits six weeks later, this has a direct negative impact on students. Students with autism, for example, greatly benefit from routine and consistency.  Instead of having a trained, caring, consistent aid working with them throughout the day, many of our high needs students have had new para-professionals (or temporary subs) on an almost monthly basis.

Imagine if your student had five different math teachers throughout the year, one quitting after the next.  The loss of continuity, the loss of familiarity and, for many students, the loss of someone they trust, can ruin any chance at learning.

But for many special needs students, their aide is with them for every class.  Without a doubt, this decision has seriously hurt our students’ education.  In their radical mission to make D86 less competitive, the Skoda majority have not demonstrated leadership to provide adequate services to our most needy students.  Instead, the Skoda majority of Skoda, Manley, Corcoran and Cassini have made decisions that harm our most vulnerable students.

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