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Letter: D-200 officials not revealing all details of Jefferson project

To the Editor:

District 200 has provided no justification for spending $17.6 million on a new Jefferson School. Lots and lots of claims, but no data.

They claim classrooms are too small. But nowhere do they say how many students are in each classroom, how many classrooms are too small or how large the new classrooms would be.

They claim education is being impacted but without a single detail of how the children’s education would be improved by having a new Cadillac-version building: How many children would be able to do what activities, and what difference would that make to the children?

Five of the classrooms have to make do with two bathrooms — so how much does it cost to add some bathrooms, expanding those classrooms a bit to add a bathroom? No information.

Some of the bathrooms need toilets for small children and better changing tables. Did they even simply putting in new toilets and tables, the simple, inexpensive, effective solution? No information.

Supposedly, some “medically fragile” children cannot use the hallways and gym. How many children, and how much impact do the gym and hallways have on them medically, and which pediatrician has certified those claims? No information.

Supposedly, the HVAC has “issues.” So how much to thoroughly overhaul or replace critical pieces of machinery? No information.

Supposedly, they considered alternatives. But the only one they cite is a complete overhaul of the entire school. Did they get estimates for three levels of rehab — minimal (bathrooms and doorways only), medium (adding classrooms to the existing building, expanding existing classrooms, putting in some new HVAC equipment), as well as full-bore? They did not.

Nowhere is there a diagram showing existing and new classrooms, with dimensions. I’ve looked at all the web pages and PDFs. Just lots of plans from the architects for combined plans including Jefferson and district offices.

Best example of all: The children have to cross a parking lot to get to the playground, and they claim its’s unsafe. But that lot is all of 20 yards wide with spaces for 20 cars. People are not “driving through it,” as they claim.

It is totally safe to cross, and there are teachers there when kids are out! And if someone were really worried, it’s no effort at all to put in a paved path curving from the school door to the playground. Simple and inexpensive.

But no one seems to have looked at what is easy, inexpensive and sufficient to meet the needs, only at what they can do with $15 million or $17.6 million. The administration hasn’t done their homework and hasn’t given any actual evidence of the need for a brand-new, ideal, building.

I’m all in favor of spending on education and have voted for every actual education referendum, but this is not an education referendum. It’s a referendum on an unneeded new building. Vote no on the Jefferson referendum!

H. Joel Jeffrey, Wheaton

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