Dist. 113 Leadership Team Presents Findings

After spending a year researching the high schools, a study group shared what needs should be addressed.

Two sets of recommendations were presented to the District 113 Board of Education on Monday night. , the other came as a surprise.

David Brint and presented the leadership team's findings during Monday's meeting. The two have worked on the leadership team over the past year  -- since shortly after -- to figure out what needs and Deerfield High Schools face and when each of those needs should be addressed.

100 volunteers, 5 committees, 1 year

During the past year, Brint and Hainsfurther explained, over 100 volunteers, including five different study groups, took several tours of the high schools. They also visited neighboring high schools, met with engineers and architects and to figure out what projects the district should prioritize going forward. 

"When this process started I didn't have a beard, and I had hair," Hainsfurther joked at the opening of his discussion.

The presentation offered general guidelines the school board should keep in mind as it begins mulling over ways to address its needs. For example, Hainsfurther and Brint made clear that the leadership team believes needs should be prioritized in terms of urgency and addressed in a cost-efficient manner. One slide in the Power Point read that projects should focus on "function not flash."

"We're not looking for these facilities to be the Taj Mahal," Hainsfurther said. "We want them to function."

From need to have to nice to have

The leadership team also divided school needs into tiers in order to distinguish importance. Tier one includes fixing parts of the school that are suffering in core ways. The pools in both schools were an example of a tier one project.

"The pools have reached the end of their useful life," Hainsfurther said. "They are not worth putting money into, in the opinion of the study group."

Hainsfurther was quick to point out, however, that the leadership team didn't have any suggestions to make once the needs were acknowledged.

"What [the pools] get replaced with is an open question," Hainsfurther said. "There are all sorts of ways to solve problems, that's not our job."

Because the report didn't mention solutions to the district's needs, it also didn't mention costs. The lack of detail did not go unnoticed by some of the residents in attendance.

"I'm very disappointed by the lack of specificity in the recommendations that came from this effort," said Steven Narrod, who spoke after Brint's and Hainsfurther's presentation. He encouraged the board to accelerate the process.

"We're covering the same ground, we need to pick up the pace," Narrod said.

Some of the board members, however, were pleased with the report. praised the presentation for its precision.

"It seemed like every [need] was important in the previous plan, but this plan is much more clear," Sandlow said.

Education First presents plan

The second presentation was made unofficially by Sam Shapiro, who recently stepped down. He spoke on behalf of , the group that opposed the district's referendum last April.

"What we saw tonight actually is not a better plan," Shapiro said about the first presentation. He then submitted a packet that outlines a $30-million proposal. He said his biggest problem with the plan presented earlier was that it didn't include any costs.

"You're not able to make trade offs when you're not able to discuss costs," Shapiro said. "You lose creativity."

Deerfield resident Harry Steindler spoke after Shapiro and was handed a copy of Shapiro's proposal. He echoed Narrod's concerns that this process might be moving too slowly.

"We need to get going," Steindler said. "Reflection is important … but we can't take too much time."

An interim report

According to Brint, the missing details in Monday night's leadership report will be filled in over time.

"This is just an interim report," Brint said. Hainsfurther called it a summary of what the committee thinks are the most urgent priorities.

Sandlow said that the study groups like the leadership team were not going anywhere, and that they would convene occasionally.

Superintendent George Fornero agreed.

"As we go through this process we will have periodic updates with the board," he said.

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