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Poll Results: 113 Should Release Data

More than 80 percent of Patch readers want community survey raw data released.

More than 80 percent of Patch readers responding to a poll asking whether should release the raw data from its community survey studying public opinion about capital improvements want the information made public.

Of the 135 people who responded to Patch’s unscientific survey, 112 want the District to release the information while 23 are content with the decision not to make the data public.

Just over a year ago, local voters rejected a referendum to make $133 million worth of capital improvements to and including upgrades to athletic facilities and replacing a structure at Highland Park nearly 100 years old.

Patch columnist Ed Brill, , thinks the only way to avoid imposition of the opinion of others is to let everyone see the information behind the memo published on the District website.

“I am not against investing the schools,” Brill writes. “I have two children who will attend HPHS as I did in the future. I want to see the tabulations. There is no way to spin them if they just show the raw responses to binary questions, even if the data is normalized first. Right now all we are seeing is qualitative interpretations from a market.”

Another reader, Walter Hainsfurther, realizes a lot of business decisions must be made by the District 113 Board and administrators before final determinations can be made. He is more concerned about those choices that the raw data.

“Some of them (the existing facilities)are unsafe and some may cost more to keep in good working condition over the 25-50 year period than to replace, Hainsfurther writes. “My point is that the survey is a guide, not an absolute. Leaders need to lead, but they need to be able to explain their actions, especially when the actions differ from what is the popular opinion.”

For reader David Greenberg, he sees political maneuvering in the process. “The inaccurate portrayal of positions and promises has been an enormous waste of time,” he writes. “But that's the fact in any political issue. It's not right, but it is what it is—the political game.”

Pete Trotter May 11, 2012 at 12:50 PM
What is the District 113 Board hiding? Poll results that show little or no support for their wish to build new buildings? Given the shrinking enrollments and demographic trends, the Board should be looking at consolidating Deerfield and Highland Park high schools into a single facility -- not expanding either campus. Pete Trotter Deerfield
barry May 11, 2012 at 01:44 PM
....sounds like Pete has yet to have kids go to high school.....or have graduated. OR.....he hasn't set foot into DHS to know and see or possibly even experience the deplorable infrastructure which is worn out to the extent another coat of paint just ain't gonna fix it. The obvious items of ceilings hanging, wires needed for technology safely but non the less Gerry rigged as well as just a general shortage of space. Lower levels utilized by students have a dungeon feeling that I didn't experience when I went to school ( grammar school built in 1887....high school in 1935) and when one looks deeper one with knowledgeod the trades may be able to tell "done on the cheap" when originally built. Again ...great schools and facilities RAISE real estate values. In hard times they help to stabilize values. But sometimes short sighted people cannot get immediate satisfaction any other way but to call for short short sighted answers to long term, big picture issues. Especially when they or their family members will not benefit in the next 18 month period.
Richard H Heineman Jr May 11, 2012 at 04:46 PM
A couple of points on this question. First the District 113 board of education was not involved in the question of what data should be released. They are not hiding anything. The issue of what data is to be released was made as a part of the market research committee’s work. This issue is not closed. The board always favors transparency. Additionally your statement about the results show that you did not understand what was released. Second, we do not have shrinking enrollments. Your statement is simply not true. There are reduced enrollments in the lower grades in the feeder districts. If you extrapolate these numbers you do show some potential reduction in the student population in 10 years. There is every indication that this is not a trend, but the impact of reduced housing sales over the past several years. Much of the population in the schools is from families that move here for the schools. This was reduced. Housing sales are picking up and the student population at various grade levels is likely to return to normal.
Tony Horwitz May 11, 2012 at 06:32 PM
As I have said before, the impending contract agreement in d109 and adoption of a long term plan for capital improvements in d113 should help give real estate a boost. We have fantastic high schools! See the story about top schools in the country. We need to invest for the next 50 years in order to have a similar ranking in 2040 and beyond.
Ed Brill May 11, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Richard, the BOE has denied two FOIA requests for the data to be published. they are absolutely involved in the question of what data should be released.
David Greenberg May 12, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Barry, I walked DHS many times as a member of the 1914/DHS... Study Group. DHS is anything but deplorable. It has some needs, but is not deplorable by any stretch of the imagination. There are some space issues, but that's related to programming that's offered and needs to be taken up as part of the overall Master Plan. Great schools CAN raise real estate values. But in the instant case, I'd argue that we've reached a point of diminishing returns. Increasing taxes isn't going to increase our real estate values. In fact, it has the opposite effect as potential buyers are turned off by the tax bill - they can go elsewhere, be in a "Top 10" school, and get a bigger house for lower tax bill, so they do. This leads to a downward trend of home prices in order to offset the higher tax burden. The schools have needs - they should be met. We also have limited funds, and need to have a Master Plan to help us get the needs met while balancing the needs of the taxpayers for relief from this onerous tax burden.
Tony Horwitz May 12, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Making noise about this survey is a red herring. And a way for the no-sayers to put up another straw-man argument. Again, I think some more actual numbers would be useful, but only one factor in the decision making process which was driven by needs assesment. Community opinion is important in that any referendum offered must be acceptable to 50% plus one of the electorate. This survey was offered to give the committees and board more information regarding why the previous referendum didn't pass and what factors might have played a substantial role in that failure. This survey was NOT a referendum, nor is it detailed or specific enough to use as a persuasive tool for the electorate. (in my opinion) Why anyone seems to think that the survey data are subject to a FOIA request is also beyond me. The survey, to me, was an internal document for use by committee members and published (as have all the meeting minutes and recommendations of the various committees) as a courtesy to the community and in the interest of transparency. Argue over it if you will, but no opinion survey makes a fifty, or 100 year old building new. The leadership committee recommendations are based on the work of ALL the committees and driven by identified needs, and the only opinion poll that really matters is at the ballot box on some future Tuesday. I am looking forward to the leadership committee report to the board on the 21st.
David Greenberg May 12, 2012 at 12:52 AM
The survey data are subject to a FOIA request because they were gathered by or on behalf of a taxpayer-funded entity (D113). We, The People, have a right to know what the results of the survey were that our tax dollars paid for. We, The People, have the right to be able to verify that the results claimed are actually fact. We deserve to know what the methodology for normalizing the data was. We deserve to be able to conduct the analysis on our own, to verify it, and debate the results or the methodology if we don't agree. Except in very limited, and narrowly interpreted instances, a public body doesn't get to have secret internal documents. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Populi, applies.
Lane Young May 12, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Tony, I agree that the leadership report on the 21st is what really matters. I hope that we don't see, after this process completes, many (if not all) of the same needs only at a higher price tag because of less favorable financial market conditions. Our high schools need investment and doing so in the most financially prudent manner is important; I'd hate to think we'd missed that window. However, I have to disagree with you about openness and transparency. The District, is contending that the survey was never requested by the District. I find this somewhat amazing, actually. For a survey that went on for pages and asked lots of questions, it provides amazingly few results. In fact beyond the demographics, listed at length, only 16 numbers (by count) are released compared to 19 results simply asserted with no data to support it. I find it hard to believe that you'd have accepted so many assertions with so little evidence when you were on the board.
Ed Brill May 12, 2012 at 01:08 AM
"as have all the meeting minutes and recommendations of the various committees" You might want to double check that. http://dist113.org/communityaction/Market%20Research%20Minutes/Forms/AllItems.aspx No minutes posted in the last six months.
John Russillo May 12, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Don't worry. E1st's plan should be coming out any day now.
David Greenberg May 12, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Snide commentary aside, no one ever said Education First was going to produce their own plan. In fact the slogan was about getting to work on a better plan. Which has been actively worked on by many in the Study Groups, including some members and supporters of Education First and CARE.
Bringin' Down Briarwood May 12, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Let's not forget this oldie but goody, John (taken directly from the E1st site) ... "We will get to work on a better plan on April 6 with a process that includes ... a community leadership team ... multiple architectural firms ... a thorough engineering analysis of the decision to tear down the two HPHS buildings ... and a quantitative analyses." From afar, it seems like they got most of what they wanted. But how they used the opportunity ... oh well. Of course, once the vote was complete, that was suddenly changed on their site to "it is the job of the school board" ... yadda, yadda, yadda. Bait and switch ... poof. H*ll, I'd settle for some measurable goals and guidelines. Instead, they just lead the community in circles and expect everybody to figure out what they want. Too bad that seems to be the only way they know how to lead.
Tony Horwitz May 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Ed, if there was a meeting, there were minutes. The market research committee last met in November except for the (albeit limited) results of the survey. I love you guys who find a typo or two in a document and then forget what the document was about in the first place. IMHO the survey was a very tiny part of the total analysis, and the real meat is the actual recommendation of the leadership committee. I also personally think this survey didn't offer up a lot of defining information anyway, so I take that for what it is worth. What we're really talking about is fifty and 100 year old infrastructure, and building for the future. As I said before, the only community input that ultimately counts is at the ballot box. Surveyed opinions are useful, but the district's needs drive the process. Wait for the leadership report and then all you nay-sayers can go to town on it. You can then voice concerns about the real issues, and not these non-sensical side issues which just distract (which is what I believe some E1sters want) from the substance. The policits of NO is easy. Consensus and compromise is hard. A lot of people have done a lot of work. Let's talk about the results of all that hard work and not allow ourselves to be distracted by the nit-pickers and the nay-sayers
Tony Horwitz May 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM
One misspell-POLITICS
Richard H Heineman Jr May 12, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Here is some more background information. The reason that there have been no minutes posted for the market research committee is that there have been no meetings since the results were posted. The next meeting is planned for the follow-up questions that will come from the work of the Architect and the community advisory board that will be involved in the project. I have called for another meeting to be held before that. As for the Board turning down a FOIA, these decisions are made by the administration and presented to the board. It is not the board’s job to get into the day to day running of the district, which is why they hire staff. This is how all boards function. I believe that the administration denied the FOIA because they felt that they were relying on the expert opinion of the Market Research committee. Again, as a member of the committee I have called for another meeting to review this and other questions. As was stated earlier the poll was not a vote, but a tool to provide input to the various study groups. It served this purpose well. The vote took place in April 2011 and we know the results of that. The survey was designed to identify the relative importance of various issues.
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther May 12, 2012 at 02:41 PM
All of this discussion is taking away the emphasis from the real work that has been done on crafting a set of priorities for the district. Does every priority reflect the survey results? No. Does the report clearly identify those areas? Yes. Is there sound logic where that occurs? My feeling (prejudiced though it may be) is yes. However, I expect there will be the opportunity to do more research and education that justifies those decisions. I can't predict what the final plan looks like. Nor can I predict the cost. If recommendations are followed, then it will be a different plan, as long as the cost/benefit analysis supports those actions. I can tell you that, as you can see from the notes on line, most of the recommendations from the study groups were made without benefit of survey results. I can assure you (and David Greenberg and Rick Heineman can attest) that the 1914/PE group's findings were not highly influenced by the survey. If the issue is where does the community differ from the recommendations, I am confident that will be clear on the 21st. Ed and Pete, will we see you there? We'll try to make it entertaining.
Ed Brill May 12, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I am planning to attend on the 21st. I wouldn't want Bringin' Down Briarwood to continue to be able to accuse me of not "being involved", though my columns have given the issues far more visibility than anything an anonymous commenter has done.
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther May 12, 2012 at 02:52 PM
That's great Ed. They've got two excellent presenters and one mediocre one. Seriously, I appreciate the questions you've raised and the discussions that have been stimulated. It's hard to understand all of the issues without spending months on them.
John Russillo May 12, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I wanna see BDB with a sign that reads "E1st show us your plan!"
Bringin' Down Briarwood May 12, 2012 at 04:02 PM
While you're busy patting yourself on the back, let me say thanks for showing up to the party, Ed. It's last call and the lights have been turned on, but you can tell your friends you were there. On a more serious note, thanks to all the people who did some actual work on this whole thing and stuck it out through the whole process with little fanfare. The enthusiasm of people like Tripp, Richard and even you David - : ) - has me very hopeful about the outcome. Personally, I'm sorry you had to be dragged through it and the subsequent griping that you can see coming. It's an awful lot of time and work, and it should be given FAR more respect than it has. I look forward to the plan and its future.
Bringin' Down Briarwood May 12, 2012 at 04:08 PM
John, I have no problem saying I won't be attending. I respect the process and aaaaaaaall the people that stuck it out. I'm willing to put my faith in them. And frankly if I thought E1st was working honorably with the best intentions of the community and students in mind, you'd never hear a word from me. This process is almost exactly what they called for, and they're still trying to discredit it at every turn. Instead, that group's cheap hypocrisy, flat-out lies, lack of direction and obvious "no new taxes" (despite how they euphemistically hide it) platform keep me chirping away.
John Russillo May 12, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I didn't agree with everything CARE put in the referendum but I respected their vigilence and their process. Like many people have said on here, it's easy to say no. Here's hoping they can come up a plan that everyone in the district can get behind.
Richard H Heineman Jr May 12, 2012 at 06:50 PM
CARE was not involved in creating the last referendum. It was formed after the District voted to put it on the ballot. Care was disbanded after the election and no longer exists. Some of the people that were involved in CARE are at part of the new planning process, but none of us are on the leadership committee.
Ed Brill May 13, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Gee, it seems I can't please BDB. At least Tripp and Rick took the approach of meeting with me last year so that I would understand their point of view and objectives. Would think that attending and reporting on the 21st first-hand -- not my day job, remember -- might help bring others along on this journey. I too am hopeful for a good plan. I just want it to be transparent, too, and from side contacts and emails, it is clear transparency is not a core belief of the d113 administration.
Bringin' Down Briarwood May 14, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Now, transparency is not a "core belief." Okay, we'll just ignore the months of open committees, dozens of outside participants and public meetings. The board is in LOCK DOWN and hopefully somebody can break it!! But I have no doubt by the end of all this, the board will be characterized as not only fighting transparency, but something in the ballpark of fighting freedom of speech in general. Like I said above, if only some of you would discuss the issues a little more honorably ...

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