Litigation Archive

Litigation Archive

June 2, 2017 - Moving Forward Together: A Statement from the Superintendent and Board President Regarding Next Steps in the Construction of Hinsdale Middle School

On the evening of Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the Community Consolidated School District 181 Board of Education approved a Settlement Agreement to end the ongoing litigation that delayed the sale of bonds needed to finance construction of a new Hinsdale Middle School. Thursday, June 1 was the deadline for the plaintiffs to file an appeal; in accordance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement, no appeal was filed. This news means that the lawsuit is officially over and the on-site construction process can begin. As an immediate next step, we have begun working with bond counsel Chapman & Cutler on the sale of bonds. Additionally, a Special Board meeting is being held Tuesday, June 6 at the District 181 Administration Center (115 West 55th Street, Clarendon Hills) beginning at 7:00 p.m.; the meeting will include several discussion and action items related to next steps in the construction process.

While the District was confident about winning the case on appeal, as was done twice in the trial court, the appellate process is a lengthy one. Given the delay that even meritless litigation on appeal can cause, the District was faced with a difficult decision: continue to defend ourselves in the appellate process, which would delay the opening of a new HMS by six to eighteen months and potentially add substantial costs to the project, or establish a position that would enable us to settle the lawsuit and open the doors to a new HMS as close to on time as possible. It is important to note that the Settlement Agreement does not change any of the terms approved by voters. Upholding the will of the voters and keeping construction on schedule and on budget have always been two overarching goals in defending against this litigation. The Settlement Agreement allows us to meet both goals.

The three-day publication error which led to the litigation was not caused by the District, and the District accepts no responsibility for the error, as clearly stated in the Settlement Agreement. What the District does commit to is the establishment of a committee within 14 days of May 31, 2017, to be comprised of three Board members to review any errors or omissions that may have occurred regarding the publication notice for the referendum, as well as the District’s past communications with the community regarding the referendum and HMS construction project. The committee cannot change the terms or funding model of the referendum, and they cannot change the structuring of the bonds. Their recommendations will be focused only on the period leading up to the referendum. A report on their work will be provided once their review is concluded.

We are grateful to the District 181 community for continued support and patience over the last six months. We are excited to now move forward together in this journey and provide a quality learning environment for our students. We invite the community to please join in thanking the Board of Education for the high level of commitment they have demonstrated to our students and community. Thanks are additionally extended to Tom Panoff, a D181 community member and partner with Mayer Brown LLP. It is because of his expertise, insightful counsel, and gracious giving of his time, and the pro bono support of Mayer Brown, that the District was able to begin the next steps in the construction process almost immediately after the May 30, 2017 Board meeting.

HMS Project Owner’s Representative Kerry Leonard has been working diligently with the architect team from Cordogan Clark & Associates and the construction management team from Bulley & Andrews to proactively prepare for the start of construction so that once this clearance was given, we would be ready to get a shovel in the ground. Their collaborative planning and creative problem solving has allowed us to maintain August 2018 as the target for opening a new Hinsdale Middle School, despite being approximately six weeks behind the original schedule due to litigation. We are also pleased to report that the project is currently on budget and that bond proceeds will be used to reimburse the District after borrowing $3.1 million from reserves to keep the project moving. Bids for Bid Group 2 are due on June 6, 2017. The opening and review of those bids will be a major milestone because at that point, we will know approximately 78% of the actual construction cost for the entire project and how those figures compared to initial estimates.

The team will continue to work closely with the Village of Hinsdale in the months ahead, particularly in regard to planning for short-term temporary parking and the two-level parking deck that will be built to the immediate north of the school. The team will also continue to work closely with HMS teachers and staff. In fact, photos are posted on our website of two current HMS classrooms that were configured with new furniture so that teachers and staff could begin to explore some of the interior options they will be helping to review in the fall.

We are committed to providing timely information on the next steps of this exciting work as we move forward. We look forward to introducing a variety of ways the community can follow our progress as the vision for HMS becomes a reality, and we will soon share news on an opportunity to come together in celebrating the ground-breaking of a new Hinsdale Middle School.

- Jennifer Burns, Board President and Don White, Ph.D., Superintendent