Common sense needed in addressing D95 buildings
Remember when Washington politicians got caught spending $640 on a toilet seat and $435 on a single hammer? Well, we’re facing similar insanity as parents of Brook Park School and S.E. Gross Middle School students (“D95 embarks on facilities master plan,” News, Sept. 14).

School District 95 board members have in hand a “facility study” claiming that our two small schools need up to $22 million in repairs and renovations. The study summary is an architect’s and builder’s dream come true. According to the study, ironically highlighted with red ink, nearly $10 million relates to “immediate hazards” that “must be addressed ASAP.” The capital letters come from the architect/consultant paid to prepare the report.

A close look at the report reveals a laundry list of expensive upgrades that we can manage quite nicely without. Do we really need a $155,000 loading dock and a $1 million cafeteria at Brook Park School? Do we really need new classroom door hinges at Gross Middle School for $230 a door? What about $35,000 to move the thermostats?

Even among the items cited in the report that we might all agree are important and necessary, I have to question the exorbitant prices involved. For example, $1,800 to repaint a flag pole; $1,600 to paint nine door frames; $11,800 to replace a water cooler.

I’m also concerned about the accuracy of the facility report. One line item shows a price range of $3,000 to $35,000 for work on the attic ventilation ducts at S.E. Gross, and another line shows a range of $64 to $62,700 for “rehabilitation of tiled surfaces.” Either the report contains typos and incorrect “bottom line” totals, or the report is useless by virtue of its vagueness when it comes to cost.

Here’s the scary part. District 95’s board members, all good volunteers with the best intentions, don’t really know much about door locks or plumbing or moving a classroom wall three feet to the right. So they rely on outside consultants to evaluate things like floor plans and toilet placements, and the consultants oblige with pie-in-the-sky recommendations. Builders and architects don’t make any money by leaving things alone.

I suspect some board members become disempowered by the process of hiring consultants to make the “big decisions,” and some board members may be vulnerable to signing off on ridiculously unnecessary building improvements simply because “the report said we should.”

Board members, I hope you don’t. You have been chosen by the community to exercise common sense, and to prioritize in a manner that places academic success far above brick-and-mortar amenities. Fix what needs fixing to keep our kids safe, and fix things when they break. Otherwise, leave the buildings alone. They may not be state-of-the-art, but they serve us quite well.

Thanks to the principals and custodians involved, every District 95 student has a clean and safe learning environment. We don’t need $22 million in building improvements. What we
really need is school board diligence. And common sense.

Ralph McDarmont
LaGrange Park

Need to keep unlicensed drivers off the street Congratulations to Mr. Robert Gordon and the Riverside and Chicago police departments for getting House Bill 1471, the “Michael Gordon DUI Law” signed by the governor (“‘Michael Gordon’ DUI law signed by Gov. Blagojevich,” News, Aug. 17). It’s a good start, but why does it take so long to go into effect?

What we need to do is stop these offenders from being able to purchase a car and license it without a driver’s license or insurance. We do background checks on firearms purchases; why not for DUI offenders to keep them off the streets.

Let’s also convict anyone who helps the offender get behind the wheel again.

Frank C. Vlazny