Yesterday, the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 Board unanimously voted to actively pursue a referendum to fund the building of a new Hinsdale Middle School.
Additional major projects may also be added to the referendum, and Ken Surma, assistant superintendent of business and operations, was asked to create a list of other projects for consideration.
Board member Marty Turek, however, believes that the referendum for the new Hinsdale Middle School should stand alone, rather than allowing for the possibility of other “tag-along” projects. “We wouldn’t even be having this conversation now about funding other building projects if we weren’t considering this for HMS,” Turek stated sternly.
Other board members also voiced their concern; Leslie Gray stated that she was worried the referendum would not leave “time for other business,” claiming that “curriculum needs to be our priority.” The time commitment needed from the board for negotiations with an architect and construction manager could indeed be a relatively lengthy process.
Initially, District 181 estimated the cost of building a new school at $65 million. Compiling the estimates from three architects, however, indicates that it may be closer to $50 million.
Unrelenting mold and water issues at HMS sparked the need for a new middle school after it was estimated that the repairs would cost over $2 million. The board gave approval to spend $350,00 for a short-term solution, however without these repairs the school would undoubtedly fall into a state of disrepair.
Overcrowding, narrow hallways, poor design, and lack of space were other, albeit lesser, reasons cited in the vote for the new Hinsdale Middle School. Located on the third floor, the school gym is far from restrooms and surrounded by busy classrooms, making noise levels and general inconvenience another source of discontent.
If it were to cost $65 million to build the new school, homeowners can expect a property tax increase of $253 per year for a property valued at $500,000.