Published Sept. 3, 2015
Future of HMS becoming a little clearer
Community meetings set for next week, board expected to make a decision
By Pamela Lannom
By the end of October, the future of Hinsdale Middle School should be more clearly defined.
As the next step in the process, Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 is inviting those in the district to attend any of three gatherings next week focused on the future of the HMS building.
“It’s exciting to know that this work we have been doing for over a year is all culminating in this next couple of weeks,” said Bridget McGuiggan, director of communications. “I think the events Sept. 8 and 10 are going to be an opportunity for community members to really get excited about what we could do with HMS.”
Attendees will be able to see renderings of both a rebuilt middle school and a renovated one and have an opportunity to question the three architectural firms which prepared them at the district’s request.
District officials will outline the potential price tags of the options and the cost to taxpayers, figures that are expected to be more precise than estimates presented up to this point, which indicate a new middle school could cost up to $65 million.
“We’re also looking forward to the opportunity to start talking about real dollars,” McGuiggan said, noting that rebuilding has seemed to emerge as the more cost-effective path.
“Ken Surma (assistant superintendent for buildings and operations) has shared that the architects are all recommending a rebuild over a renovation,” she said.
Attendees at next week’s meetings also will hear a report from district officials on the development of a 10-year facilities master plan for all district schools.
The sessions will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 8 at Hinsdale Middle School, 100 S. Garfield Ave; from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, at Hinsdale Public Library, 20 E. Maple St; and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, at Clarendon Hills Middle School, 301 Chicago Ave. Registration is not required.
The two evening sessions will follow an open house format, McGuiggan said. District officials will make a short presentation two or three times and residents can move around to see plans and talk to architects. The session at the library will be a more formal presentation due to space constraints.
The district also is gathering information through an online survey (see sidebar for information) and phone survey conducted with randomly selected residents.
“We’re really trying to make it clear to people that we want this feedback and we hope they will get involved and engaged in this process,” McGuiggan said, citing various efforts to get in touch with residents who do not have children in district schools. “We’re trying to go above and beyond to make this as inclusive of a process as possible.”
Having substantial feedback will assist the school board in making a decision that aligns with the community’s wishes, she said.
The board is scheduled to hear a presentation on the 10-year master facilities plan at its Sept. 28 meeting and could make a decision in October whether to go to referendum in March for the middle school and/or other projects.
Board member Gary Clarin, who serves as chairman of the facilities committee, thanked administrators at Monday night’s board meeting for their work so far.
“You’ve done a great job,” he said. “You’ve kept us informed. You’ve got the community involved. You’ve got the schools involved. You’ve got the parents involved.
“I don’t think we could ask for anything more at this point. Let’s see what happens.”
Getting up to speed
Residents who would like more background about the Hinsdale Middle School building and the master facilities planning process or who want to offer input should visit d181.org > Our District > Facilities Master Plan Development.
There they will find the following:
• a written overview of the process of developing a facilities master plan
• a written overview of the history of HMS
• a 30-minute podcast of a May presentation by Superintendent Don White and Assistant Superintendent Ken Surma outlining some of the history of the facilities master planning process and of HMS
• a series of documents outlining the community engagement and research process, which began last fall, including reports on focus group and stakeholder interviews
• reports regarding facility, educational adequacy, and life-safety assessments
• a 350-page facilities condition assessment report
• results of staff surveys
• a link to the community survey
• an online comment form
Following the Sept. 8 meeting, the site also will include an eight-page document answering frequently asked questions.