District 204 Picks Site For Metea Valley High School – New Boundaries On The Way

The good news is Indian Prairie District 204 has announced the selection of a new land site upon which Metea Valley High School will be built by the end of 2009.  The bad news is if the Naperville Sun’s Potluck blog is any indiciation, upcoming discussion regarding new boundaries will be brutal. 

For those who haven’t seen the news, the new high school will be built on an 87 acre piece of land South of I-88 just east of Eola Road between Diehl Rd. and North Aurora Road on the Far Northwest side of Naperville.  The price tag is $16.5 million which is roughly half of what the district was facing with the now infamous Brach-Brodie property. 


While I’m relieved our community will move beyond the land issue, we now turn to the difficult task of new boundary lines which will likely shift further north than the previous boundaries for the Brach-Brodie property.

I am in hopes that we, as a community, can quickly move beyond the boundary battle and that those who live in particular subdivisions support the decision and that those who don’t live in those particular subdivisions stop taunting those who do. 

The reality is, we need to focus our energies on the equitable quality of all three high schools.  Now is the time to address the host of concerns and perspectives which have been revealed about what some sadly consider to be the lesser of the three high schools and raise the school up now that it will have a bit more room to work with.

This whole process has brought out the worst in social class warfare here in Naperville and I hope everyone pauses, takes a close look at the angry dialogue and realizes how sadly pathetic it all sounds.  The reality is, District 204 has prevailed in making a decision which will be best for the entire district and not one that raises any questions about influence and motive.  At the end of the day, we can all count our multitude of surplus blessings that we are fortunate enough to live in an amazing community which has two incredible public school systems.

To all members of the District 204 School Board (Mark Metzger, John Stephens, Jeannette Clark, Curt Bradshaw, Bruce Glawe, Alka Tyle and Christine Vickers) and Superintendent Stephen Daeschner, congratulations on a difficult job well done.  SM


9 responses to “District 204 Picks Site For Metea Valley High School – New Boundaries On The Way

  1. Congratulations on a job well done?! Are you nuts? Most of this board and the previous superintendent have led this district through a fiasco that involved a spate of poor decisions which resulted in millions of lost taxpayer dollars, called into question their integrity or competency, and
    and worst of all, created an unneeded and artificial situation that pitted neighbor against neighbor. All the result of a zeal to do whatever it took get a questionable high school built (while at least one school sat idly vacant). And to make matters worse, in their preoccupation with this empire building (and associated lawsuits, legislative efforts and court orders), they failed to rectify one of the most serious problems affecting students and taxpayers in this district: the growing perception (and hence reality) of desirability differences between the two existing high schools. I would go as far as to say that they even caused this problem to begin with. No, congratulations is not the word I would use to comment on their performance. I think, rather, that they are acting quickly so as to put this whole mess behind them. Hastily “covering your ###” is a more appropriate comment on their recent activities.

  2. I want to thank Mark for his comment and sharing his perspective with the World of Naperville. I wholeheartedly agree with him on the point that we need not forget the issues of real and perceived inequities that exist within our school district and have surfaced through this process. If the alleged inequities prove to be true, then we must respond and fix them quickly to ensure that all families of District 204 receive the same educational experience and opportunity for paying the same tax dollars as everyone else. With that said, I also want to make a point that we all might reflect upon. Let’s remember that “character” is the true measure of any person, not how much or how little money they or their family might have. Therefore, the quality of a school cannot be measured by how rich or poor the students happen to be.

    Clearly it has been a difficult journey full of charged feelings and some degree of human error. By no means am I saying it’s been a perfect road; however, the reality is we have a school board comprised of human beings willing to apply their abilities, experiences and time toward hopefully making a difference in our community. In doing so, they open themselves up to the vast amount of criticism, hostility and judgement all for simply trying to do the right thing.

    When it comes to building new schools, it’s a virtual no-win situation because no matter the outcome, a significant portion of taxpayers will be required to help pay the freight despite the fact their children will not be able to attend the new school or either they have adult children or no children at all. All of these issues factor into the tension which is created. I sometimes wish that everyone out there who is voicing angry opinions and casting harsh judgements based upon semi-complete bits-and-pieces of information would be honest and simply admit that “yes, my taxes have increased to pay for a school that won’t personally benefit me or my family at all, and it really stinks” rather than redirect the anger in the form of trying to ruin the opportunity for everyone and destroy the reputation of well-meaning human beings who are just as prone to make mistakes as you and I. In this instance, I think the District 204 School Board and Superintendent did the best they could armed with the information at their disposal to act in the best interest of taxpayers. Let’s not forget, these are elected officials who depend upon a host of resources upon which to base their decisions.

    As taxpayers, sometimes we are the benefactor… sometimes we are the beneficiary. It’s not personal, it’s just the way our country works. The good news is the cup is, indeed, more than half full.

  3. a loud Bah! to folks like Gruber above – ALL of this “fiasco” was caused by money-grubbers like him who can’t see that 10,000 kids cannot fit into 2 high schools. These greedy, selfish weasels whipped up the “class warfare” with scare tactics (“Your property values will fall if you’re moved out of Neuqua!”) creating fear, uncertainty, and doubt – and caused the first referendum to fail.

    Here are the facts:

    1) the school is needed – 5000 per high school is much too big. This is clear to anyone who thinks more about kids and education that about money.

    2) if the first referendum had passed, the Brach land would have been purchased at the originally projected, reasonable cost, and the school likely would be opening next fall.

    3) because the greedy fearmongers succeeded in defeating the first referendum, the new school will certainly cost more, and tons of money has had to be spent in court.

    The bottom line is that these guys who were interested in “saving money” really have ended up costing everyone a ton of money and a lot of heartache. If they were really thinking about what was best for the community, they would have helped to pass the referendum instead of working to defeat it.

  4. As I observe the commentary, I feel compelled to express that although it is unfortunate, social “warfare” is a natural human behavior and cannot be stopped. In a district as large as 204, there are bound to be huge differences in income levels amongst the inhabitants. Personally, I don’t know what is worse, rich snobs frowning that “regular” kids will be at their school, or being the middle income family forced to try to fit in with kids that have so much more than they do. As one of these more regular people, living in a neighborhood of relatively lower house values ($350-450K as of 1/1/2008), part of me would rather not have my kids attend a school where they will be laughed at because they aren’t wearing the hottest brand of clothes. But at the same time, we have to deal with whatever comes our way the best we can, and parent our children to accept others and be comfortable with themselves. If the kids don’t care, why should we? Wealther parents should know better and teach their kids to accept everyone as equals. It would be different if we were talking about some really dangerous neighborhoods, but come on, this is district 204.

    I am more concerned with my kids becoming separated from friends they have made over the years in grade school. It seems many of my kids’ friends will likely go to a different HS than mine because of the new location of the HS. To me, that’s a bigger issue.

  5. Thanks for your comment Alex. I think appreciation, understanding and respect begins with each of us, which I believe is part of the message you were conveying and something I was trying to emphasize. Our true value as human beings and measure of character has very little to do with how much or how few material things we have. As parents, all we can do is the best we can to instill a strong sense of appreciation for others as well as the blessings we have in this life. We can teach our children about the truths and falsity of money and material things.

    District 204 is indeed large and I often think of all the close friends my oldest son is making now in first grade only to think how many different ways they will be split apart before they reach high school. At the same time, high school is ultimately about preparation for the next phase of life moving toward adulthood and the real world, which quite often is not that dissimilar from high school. The stronger our children’s skills in adapting to new environments and meeting new people the better off they will be in the long run.

    I grew up just outside of Ft. Knox, KY and, by default, many of the kids I befriended and ultimate lost to relocation where army kids. Regardless of who they were and where they came from, one constant quality of army kids is their amazing level of maturity and ability to quickly fit in to social circles and thrive. The reason? They had learned to move from school to school, social circle to social circle which made them extraordinarily well-adjusted human beings.

    As for over-indulged kids, we can count our blessings that we live in our middle class Naperville neighborhoods with at least enough money to provide a wonderful home and community for our children but at the same time not an over excess of money which only leads to perilous over-gratification. A great 16th century philosopher, Balthasar Gracian, spoke of the peril of over-gratification in that it ultimately extinguishes desire which is the key component of motivation. When children are over-indulged and over-gratified growing up, it truly does more damage than good later in life.

    Thus, the next time your children beg you for the next big fad, take pride in knowing that not buying it for them is giving them the keys to future success. Even more, help them find an opportunity to earn the money and save up enough to buy the object of their desire. As you and I both know, they will certainly have a great deal more appreciation and satisifaction having earned it.

    Keep those comments coming.

  6. Stuart,

    I wholeheartedly agree with your statements that ‘we must respond and fix [inequities] quickly to ensure that all families of District 204 receive the same educational experience and opportunity for paying the same tax dollars as everyone else’ and that ‘ the quality of a school cannot be measured by how rich or poor the students happen to be’.

    I, like you, believe that the quality of the school is determined by the character of its administration, teachers, parents, and students, and less on physical attributes like the building, its amenities, or its location. There are many wonderful and desireable schools in our community without a pool, updated stadium or tennis courts, or state-of-the-art computer labs. Indeed, many of these have waiting lists to get in.

    I would now like to respond to FastEddie.

    I resent being called a ‘greedy selfish weasel’. How is wanting to be fiscally responsible by questioning administration spending decisions equate me to being a moneygrubber? Sounds like prudent management to me. The administration needs to spend our tax money wisely; having a differing opinion as to how this is done does not make me greedy.

    Those opposed to the new school did not invent the perceived Waubonsie vs Neuqua differences as you suggest. Ask any builder or realtor in the area. This perception existed long before the referendum was on the table and in part started with the creation of the school itself as “the most expensive high school built in the country”. The administration and SB desire to make the school a showplace (recall the media visits) certainly did nothing to make the schools appear equal. Additional conduct and academic performance problems at the other school exasperated its neglected stepchild image. The responsibility for this condition lies squarely with the administration, and to blame homeowners for having concerns about which school their children would attend or how it affects their most significant financial asset (their home) is ludicrous.

    It is now 2008, three years after the first referendum. We are currently at about 8,100 students. This is still a far cry from 10,000 and does not even include the availability of the Frontier school. We seem to be surviving in our existing two schools – no split shifts, no trailers, no year round school. These were the scare tactics and fearmongering calls of some of the new school supporters. The sky is not falling. And there is still plenty of capacity at Peterson and many of the other elementary schools.

    The fact is, FastEddie, that the first referendum did fail. Whether it was in part due to uncertainty among homeowners as to which school they would attend or some healthy skepticism due to previous administration assurances in a prior referendum that the freshman campuses would solve the overcrowding problem, it does not matter. What matters is what the administration and SB did after that. In my mind, their actions in trying to secure the BB property, and the manipulation of the boundary issue in order to get the referendum passed were deplorable. There was no wasted money as of the first referendum. Poor judgment on the part of the administration and SB is what has resulted in squandered money. Shame on you for suggesting that the blame lies in the decision of the majority of the voting public. You are suggesting that it’s as if by voting against the referendum, taxpayers were granting permission for the district to sue BB and incur its resulting penalties.

  7. As most of you know, some Neuqua Valley parents are concerned that if their children go to Waubonsie Valley that their children will not receive as high of an education, that their children will be going to school with lower class children who are “bad influences”, or that their home values will be going down, (although the housing market is terrible right now anyway). But does anyone ever bother asking the students what they think? I know the classic comment made is; “They’re just teenagers, what do they know?” And as I speak on behalf of a lot of students, I believe that we know more than you think we do about the situation.

    I have resided in Naperville school district 204 for 10 years now, so I am used to the ‘extravagent’, and ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ lifestyle that living in ‘Naperworld’ provides. It’s the truth, isn’t it? Naperville, IL, is not like other towns in this country. The education we receive here, and the opprotunity we receive is beyond what some of our parents could have ever dreamed of when they were growing up. We are told everyday by our educators at school that both high schools are better then your average…so why is there still so much, I guess to say “drama”. Come one, this is not middle school here!

    To elaborate, every single day, I walk through a sea of 1500 middle school students, in a school that was only meant for 1250. I have classrooms in module classrooms, (as they are called), that are extremely nice, but the fact is that you still walk outside to go to them. I also attend classes that only have half of a wall; meaning that the other half is made out of flags. Yes, flags. And then, as I look out across my bedroom window right now, and see Neuqua Valley, I think, ‘Wow, an even more crowded school to look forward to for next year.’ I was told just several weeks ago that next year Neuqua is expecting 4700 students, and I am sure that Waubonsie is looking at similiar numbers. So isn’t this 3rd high school needed? For the last year, I have known that I was going to be seperated from 1/2 of the students that attend my middle school. One half. One half of my friends were supposed to attend Metea,

  8. I actually think the most important issues are:

    – the chosen site is far from the student center of population and could force several – as many as 3 – elementary schools to travel to the farthest high school from their homes. These kids are looking at up to 2 hours on the bus every day.

    – the chosen site has enviornomental hazards that are uncertain and will not be made certain until the school is under construction. The EMF testing was done in the fall, so the results show the lowest EMF readings that could be expected at any time of the year. The peaker plant will not be disassembled until the end of 2008. Yes, they are performing Phase II testing now, but what happens when the concrete slabs under the turbines are removed and that is tested for solvents? Again, this will take place at the end of 2008, after we’ve started construction.

    I care about my kids’ safety – both on the way to and while at the school. Unfortunately, the other issues are causing the important safety concerns to be overlooked.

  9. Bottom Line – I have no faith that the school board can effectively make the big decisions that are facing the district, specifically, the 3rd high school.

    Here’s my stance:

    1) The district will have to reimburse the Brach Brodie estate $5-6M in legal fees. Essentially, the will have to give the 25 acres back to them at no charge. Oh, and by the way, the “Market Value” is 500K per acre per the jury, so we are giving back $12.5M. We are unable to realize that gain per the settlement agreement to my knowledge.
    2) From an accounting perspective, the legal fees represent a SUNK COST. To say the new land only cost $16.5M is a lie. The true cost is more like $22M (Land plus legal fees)
    3) To put another high school WEST of the train tracks is ludicrous – 80% of the students live east of the train tracks. Given the pending sale and the 300% in increased train traffic, the northern location is unacceptable from a safety standpoint.
    4) The environmental clean up is a concern. Just ask anyone associated with Kerr McGee in West Chicago. These things take time and lots of money. Delays are imminent even if the school district is not responsible for the clean up. However, we will PAY real money in project delays. Mark my words, the school WILL NOT be ready in 2009.
    4) The Voters passed the referendum assuming the Broch Brodie was the BEST Site for the district. What has changed other than the Price?

    Based on that, I think the district should have asked for a $9M special referendum to buy the Brach Brodie land for $31M. This is the difference between the $31M price of the Brach estate minus the “True COST” of the northern location. Alternatively, I think the district could have negotiated with Macom and the park district to obtain land near 248th street, which is east of the tracks, and near a huge population of students.

    And finally, I think a referendum is in order to upgrade WVHS, no matter how the boundaries are drawn. Let’s give all of the IPSD students and tax payers equal high school facilities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s