New construction raises questions about property taxes


Mujtaba Ali-khan

After a second referendum vote passed in March 2017, Hinsdale Middle School’s construction updates are underway despite differing opinions in the community.

Construction of the new Hinsdale Middle School (HMS) started in October of last year to build a new basement and parking deck. With the ground broken, recent board meetings have included the voices of residents, reflecting clashing opinions over noise and property taxes.

With the beam signing that happened late January, citizens of Hinsdale are hopeful that construction will continue to progress. The signing included students, residents, and faculty of HMS signing their name on a beam to be used in the construction. Many of these people, including Katie Schemelka, mother and doctor at Hinsdale Hospital, felt that the construction was taking more time than expected, especially with the lawsuit that struck towards the beginning of construction.

“I thought the lawsuit was just running up legal fees for the district,” Schemelka said.

In March 2017, five Clarendon Hills residents sued District 181 on the grounds of a timing technicality of releasing the referendum notice. According to the lawsuit, the district should not have notified residents of the referendum vote no earlier than October 11, 2016, but the district notified residents three days earlier than Oct. 11. The lawsuit has since been dismissed by a DuPage County judge. 

When the first referendum was released in March 2016, it was voted down because the majority of voters opposed the amount of money they were spending on construction, which was estimated on the referendum as $65 million. The passed referendum occurred in November 2016 and approved the construction for $53 million. The construction includes the parking deck to ensure all staff have parking spots and more classrooms to alleviate overcrowding. 

“I feel like the parking (deck) is necessary because it’s used by everyone. The basement is a good idea because there will be more classrooms so it will not be over crowded,” said Tanner Carter, sophomore who attended Hinsdale Middle School for three years.

Many students who attended HMS think the construction is necessary, including current eighth grade student, Truman Carter, who complains about leaky ceilings and crowds during the school day.

Parents, like Schemelka, also agree that construction is necessary, but don’t believe the school needs the amount of money they’re asking for.

Although the referendum passed with a 53.6 percent majority, there are still debates over the authenticity of the votes and whether all aspects of construction are necessary.

Construction will continue until fall of this year. More information is available at the district website.