Hinsdale High School District 86’s decisions to cut a long list of sports and clubs and to seek another referendum in April has drawn much attention. But there are lots of other topics of interest.
Private funding for football?
Burr Ridge Village Board member Zachary Mottl, who led the “District 86 can do better, vote no” campaign against the November referendum, said he would donate $35,000 to fund football at both schools next year and said others had pledged a total of $100,000, which is nearly half the $275,500 it costs the district to run the programs for one year.
In exchange, he asked the school district to put a $42 million referendum to fund security, safety and accessibility improvements on the April ballot rather than $130 million.
Mottl said none of the school board members responded, although he did communicate with the Superintendent Bruce Law via email. One of Law’s concerns was the federal Title IX law, which requires equal opportunities for both genders.
Board member Robert “Bo” Blackburn called Mottl’s offer a publicity stunt.
“We can’t ‘go fund me’ every three months and run a school district that way,” said Blackburn.
Why different costs for football?
Although more students played football at Hinsdale Central this past fall than at Hinsdale South, the net cost of the football program was more expensive at South.
District 86 spent $145,817 for 101 South students to play football, which is $16,112 more than the $129,705 it cost for 179 students to play football at Central.
The coaches are paid based on their years of experience. The stipends for South’s 12 paid coaches was $108,885; whereas Central had 13 paid coaches who received $111,746 in stipends.
Transportation for Central’s football program cost $13,720 compared to $6,650 at South, because Central had more players and more teams.
Students pay an activity fee of $115 unless entitled to a waiver due to financial reasons. The district received $20,240 in fees for Central’s players, compared with $6,440 from South’s players.
Paid admission at the gate was $17,868 at Central for the season and $11,282 at South.
The number of people paid to take tickets, help park cars, handle security and move the down markers on the field varies. South’s stadium is more spread out so more workers are assigned, said Central athletic director Dan Jones. Central spent $10,258 on workers this year compared to $18,514 at South.
Conflict of interest accusation
Former District 86 Board member Ed Corcoran questioned whether the current board President Bill Carpenter had his own interests in mind when he voted on which sports and activities the district would cut to afford facility improvements.
Carpenter and his wife are listed as the agent and president of The Perfect Swing, a baseball training center in Darien that its website says has indoor space for baseball, softball and soccer practice. Corcoran noted in the Citizens for Clarendon Hills newsletter that none of those sports was cut at District 86.
Carpenter rejected the accusation and thanked Corcoran for the free advertising of his business.
Had he proposed cutting the schools’ baseball, softball and soccer teams, Carpenter said he would have been accused of doing so to divert those students to his facility.
Does curriculum have to be identical to be equal?
Some residents have claimed that district officials favor Central over South and the course offerings reflect that. The school board has maintained that, though not identical, the curriculum is equally challenging at both schools.
But the school board has asked the staff to align the curriculum so it is the same at both schools.
During a presentation Jan. 7 by Carol Baker, the assistant superintendent for academics, some board members were dismayed to learn that even the curriculum for the same classes within a school is not always identical.
The board asked for more information, including a timeline for and the estimated cost of aligning curriculum, at its Jan. 22 meeting.
District 86’s largest expense, like most school districts, is personnel. The district is in the third year of a four-year contract with the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association, the union that represents the district’s teachers, social workers and other certified staff.
They received a 1.575 percent raise this school year and are scheduled to receive the same percent increase next school year, per the contract which expires June 30, 2020.
District officials have begun preliminary discussions to lay the groundwork for the bargaining that will take place next fall, said Karen Warner, the district’s chief communications officer.