District 15 Building Safety

The Illinois School Building Code requires school districts to survey their buildings every ten years to ensure the health and safety of students, staff and others.

District 15′s architect completed site visits last summer and submitted a safety survey report to District 15 administrators. This report was presented to the Board at their regular meeting in December.

Most importantly, Urgent issues require prompt correction to ensure a safe environment for our students. Urgent items present an “immediate hazard to the safety of students.”

The following table shows a summary of safety items by school. Click on the school name for a list of the Top 10 Urgent Safety Items.

Urgent Required Other Total Total with
A&E and
Jane Addams $781,400 $5,161,300 $794,900 $6,737,600 $7,748,240
Central Road 512,100 3,665,300 912,100 5,089,500 5,852,925
Conyers Learning Academy 3,232,300 4,114,700 2,164,300 9,511,300 10,937,995
Hunting Ridge 1,893,800 2,489,300 1,218,000 5,601,100 6,441,265
Thomas Jefferson 1,031,700 3,965,800 765,300 5,762,800 6,627,220
Marion Jordan 656,900 4,475,800 1,227,600 6,360,300 7,314,345
Kimball Hill 553,000 4,014,700 3,679,200 8,246,900 9,483,935
Lake Louise 378,500 3,216,800 979,100 4,574,400 5,260,560
Lincoln 1,089,100 4,326,800 1,001,700 6,417,600 7,380,240
Stuart R. Paddock 1,159,450 3,660,650 1,262,400 6,082,500 6,994,875
Pleasant Hill 1,096,050 3,799,400 2,757,150 7,652,600 8,800,490
Gray M. Sanborn 712,200 6,045,000 1,549,100 8,306,300 9,552,245
Virginia Lake 506,800 3,566,200 2,048,600 6,121,600 7,039,840
Frank C. Whiteley 638,300 4,292,100 3,762,700 8,693,100 9,997,065
Willow Bend 630,850 3,540,100 1,215,650 5,386,600 6,194,590
Winston Campus 748,950 7,737,300 1,801,950 10,288,200 11,831,430
Plum Grove JH 1,516,300 8,398,600 1,407,200 11,322,100 13,020,415
Carl Sandburg JH 1,157,700 4,212,100 659,100 6,028,900 6,933,235
Walter R. Sundling JH 829,700 7,471,400 1,887,600 10,188,700 11,717,005
 Total  $19,125,100 $88,153,350 $31,093,650 $138,372,100 $159,127,915

Note: The final total above includes 7.5% A&E (architectural and engineering) fees and 7.5% contingency.


1. When will District 15 correct Urgent safety problems?

According to the Illinois School Building Code, Urgent items “present an immediate hazard to the safety of students,” and are required to be corrected “as soon as achievable to ensure the safety of the students, but in no case more than one year after approval….”

Although our architects completed the site visits last summer, District 15′s Administration still has not brought forward a proposal to correct immediate hazards. We are now at risk of missing the summer 2015 construction season resulting in a full year delay until summer 2016. Correction of other Urgent issues not requiring a summer shutdown should be started now.

There is nothing more important than providing a safe environment for our students. A plan including target completion dates is needed now for all Urgent items.

2. Are the priorities correct?

The answer unfortunately is No and the Board is in the dark about how many are Urgent. The original list presented to the Board in December had 710 items marked as Urgent. When asked about this at the December board meeting it became clear that many items were marked as Urgent although there was no immediate safety hazard.

In a December 19th note to the Board, Superintendent Thompson characterized the report as a draft and stated our architect is adjusting priorities. It is unknown when the Board will receive a corrected report.

3. Are the cost estimates accurate?

The answer to this question is also No. Most estimates are highly inflated and unreliable. There are numerous examples of inflated estimates based on a spot check of the report. It is unknown when a revised report with accurate estimates will be provided to the Board.


Community members will be able to ask questions and provide feedback at Community Communication Forums that will be held at 7:00 p.m. on the dates shown below at each of the District’s four junior highs.

District 15 administrators will share more detailed study results that pertain to the specific schools served within each of those geographic areas.

Date Site Elementary Schools to be included
Thursday, January 8 Carl Sandburg Junior High Central Road, Kimball Hill, Thomas Jefferson, and John G. Conyers Learning Academy
Thursday, January 15 Walter R. Sundling Junior High Marion Jordan, Lincoln, Stuart R. Paddock, and Gray M. Sanborn
Thursday, January 29 Winston Campus Junior High Jane Addams, Lake Louise, Virginia Lake, and Winston Campus Elementary
Thursday, February 5 Plum Grove Junior High Hunting Ridge, Pleasant Hill, Frank C. Whiteley, and Willow Bend

District 15 Deficit Spending

September 9, 2014

Dear District 15 Community,

Are you concerned about your property taxes? You should be.

District 15 is heading down the slippery slope of deficit spending, which ultimately leads to higher taxes.

The budget for this year authorizes a $4.0 million deficit and is on the agenda for approval by the Board this Wednesday, September 10th, at 7pm.

Putting this in perspective… to balance the budget would require only a 1.5% reduction in the District’s $151 million expenditures budget. A reduction of this size would continue to fund the $1.8 million for additional capital improvement projects approved by the Board in March from our relatively small fund balance surplus.

A balanced budget can easily be accomplished through some combination of finding real savings, deferring discretionary spending, and/or adjusting the forecast if estimates are overly conservative.


  1. In Person. A public comment period is on the agenda at each Board Meeting before the Board takes action. Board meetings are normally held at Walter R. Sundling Junior High School (Google Map).
  2. Email. Board Member email addresses are listed at District 15 School Board. And/or you can provide feedback to Superintendent Scott Thompson at or to me by visiting my contact page.


As you may recall, the severe structural deficit we were facing in District 15 was corrected over two years ago through a collaborative effort between the board, administration, employee groups and the community.

Unfortunately that success appears to be slipping away. Continue reading District 15 Deficit Spending

District 15 Board Goals for 2014-2015

September 3, 2014

Dear District 15 Community,

District 15 will be considering Board Goals for the 2014-2015 school year at the School Board meeting next Wednesday, September 10th, 2014, at 7pm.

A first draft was presented to the Board at our August meeting and there was an extended discussion of concerns and suggestions for changes; however, only one change was made in the revised draft to expand the scope of the goal to create a long-term financial plan.

My concerns and suggestions were not incorporated into the revised draft. As just one example, there is no Board Goal in two categories: Enhance Student Learning and Stakeholder Involvement. As a School Board Member I find it unacceptable that we have no Board Goal to enhance learning nor improve stakeholder involvement.

Following are the current draft goals:

GOAL CATEGORY #1: Enhance Student Learning

  • Board Goal: None

Continue reading District 15 Board Goals for 2014-2015