23 Comments
Feb 21Liked by Tom Hayden

I say "Here's your hat; what's the hurry?" Seriously hope these positions are not being replaced. Tom, we need you in this watchdog position or I'd encourage you to run for school board. Are there any groups seeking better qualified, question-asking candidates?

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Feb 21Liked by Tom Hayden

I’m not sure I will rest easy until all Horton-era admin and BOE are gone. Then we will have to pick up the pieces and figure out where the money is going to come from. I’ll tell you what: I will fight tooth and nail against any referendum looking for more money from taxpayers. This district squandered funds. It’s time to live lean and within the means. No more handouts. I suggest they start renting out the new school for events on weekends to make some money. Maybe have a garage sale. It’s going to be ugly, but that’s what we get when we don’t pay attention and we don’t vote.

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Feb 21Liked by Tom Hayden

The Board's love affair with Cordogan Clark blows my mind. If I had a vendor which kept critical information from me about a project the size of the 5th Ward School, fired would not be the right word for how quickly they would be gone, and yet - they are still collecting checks and running the show.

After I wrote my first letter to the editor on D65 (https://evanstonroundtable.com/2022/03/07/letter-to-editor-fifth-ward-school-bessie-rhodes-plan/), I got a Zoom call with Dr. Horton and Dr. Obafemi and one of the questions I asked was how they came up with the budget and was told that the number came from Cordogan Clark - that there were industry standards for how many square feet you needed per student and how much a building should cost per square foot.

As we now know, Cordogan Clark was never able to design a building that could be built for $40 million, yet never shared that info with the Board until this past October.

They also never shared with the Board that there could be factors which could jack the cost of construction costs up, such poor soil conditions. No one checked and that factor was never taken into account by the Board in going ahead with the lease certificate transaction. And surprise - the soil conditions turned out to be suboptimal and that factor that has added something on the order of $6 million to construction costs.

Even after Cordogan Clark knew that there was no way to build the new building with the funds from the lease certificates, they kept quiet when Dr. Horton continued to tell lies about the cost of the building.

And yet, the Board treats them as trusted advisers and pays them huge amounts of money. Mind-blowing.

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Feb 21Liked by Tom Hayden

Thanks for posting these Mr. Hayden. I'm a Bessie Rhodes parent and I've been reading some of your past articles to get some context on the whole situation in the district. I hope you continue this project in some capacity. I also hope that we get a couple new school board members, either from the newly mobilized BR community or the comments section here.

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Feb 23Liked by Tom Hayden

Tom, great reporting as usual! Dr. Horton also took the teacher residency program (name included "Create") with him as well.

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This is good news. I never understood how she got this position. She had never worked in education before. I had asked her a basic data-oriented question about the "rate of change" at a public event and she didn't know what the term meant!

It is great that all these Horton-era dead-enders are leaving. However, the rot comes from the top. You basically have the same board that hired Horton in place. The newer members have done basically zero to distinguish themselves as independent voices. And the old ones who didn't quit all won re-election.

They are in the process of doing a Horton 2.0 superintendent hire--totally in the dark without public scrutiny.

I have little hope things will get better at this point.

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You cannot run a financial institution unless you hire competent professionals who completely understand financial matters. You can’t run a hospital or medical center without knowledge of medicine and budgets etc. You can’t run an electrical contracting company if you don’t hire electricians who have proved competence ion a variety of strings and who have passed rigged exams. But we hire superintendents who promise to provide education through an equity lens with an emphasis on cultural competence This is educational jargon that will please some people but has nothing to do with quality education. We will continue to see an exodus of students and an administration that continues along the same old path year after year

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Here is something worth writing about. Two headlines ….one talks about District 65 falling behind CPS and other suburban schools in recovery from the pandemic while another one talks about ETHS having to adjust their math programs to meet the needs of students coming in not at anticipated grade level. BUT parents can attend a program sponsored by the district and the YWCA helping parents teach their children in Kindergarten through 4th grade about sex education !

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I worked as a public school teacher, consultant, and principal. We were NEVER allowed to take what we produced in any of those situations NEVER and Horton waltzes off with MIRACLES? He's scum and he left our district in a huge financial whole and we seem to want to stay there. Meanwhile, our children are the ones who are struggling at rates that are unexpectable.

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