Architects, Public Ponder Merging PMSA Campus With East And/Or West

Tuesday, April 3, 2018 || By Michael Romain ||@maywoodnews || Updated: 04/07/18 

Featured image: The Forest Park campus of Proviso Math and Science Academy | File 

During a community engagement meeting held Feb. 27 as part of Proviso Township High Schools District 209’s master facilities planning process, members of the public openly grappled with the prospect of eliminating Proviso Math and Science Academy’s physical campus in order to save costs and maximize the use of space at Proviso East and Proviso West.

Since the district tapped the architectural firm Perkins and Will to draw up a comprehensive plan for improving the district’s three campuses last June, the firm has hosted three engagement meetings.

The two meetings prior to the Feb. 27 meeting centered on exploring the areas where the district’s campuses need to be improved the most.

Mark Jolicoeur, of Perkins and Will, said that the “guiding principles” that have anchored the community engagement process have been “fiscal responsibility, equity and [whether or not the process is] data-informed.”

The Proviso East meeting was the first at which some possible options for approaching the district’s capital needs were discussed. The fact that all three campuses in District 209 have classrooms that are severely underutilized factored prominently in last month’s discussion.

The classroom utilization rates at all three schools range between 64 percent and 67 percent. Jolicoeur said that the target rate for newly constructed school buildings is around 85 percent to 90 percent.

“The good thing,” he said, “is that there is flexibility” and ways that populations might be shifted around to increase utilization rates. More buildings, he added, aren’t needed.

Jolicoeur said that the raw data obtained from capacity analyses done by the firm indicated that all three schools have the capacity to hold more students.

Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 12.09.52 AM.png

A chart by Perkins and Will on classroom utilization for all three D209 campuses. | Submitted photo 

Nowadays, Jolicoeur said, education spaces are required to be much more flexible than in the past, particularly to account for the growth in special education, technology and various student support services.

“One of the key questions that came out of the second community engagement session is, as a district, do we have too many facilities?” Jolicoeur asked.

The costs of operating those facilities, he added, cuts into money that might go directly to education purposes.

The question led into what Perkins and Will representatives called some “hard questions.”

For the first time in the master facilities planning process, the architects offered a series of very preliminary options for dealing with the district’s facilities burden and most of them centered on what to do with PMSA.

The first option was to look at the needs of all three campuses and consider improving all three — what they called the status quo.

The second option was to “co-locate” PMSA at both East and West while maintaining the magnet school in its current form.

The third option was to choose to locate PMSA at either East or West.

A fourth option was to merge PMSA into the existing curriculum at East and West, and the fifth option was to locate PMSA at Proviso West while combining the student enrollments at both East and West at Proviso East.

The options favored by the roughly 30 community members present at the meeting ran the gamut, with the third and fourth options seeming to gain the most traction. Some community members said that merging the schools would raise the confidence of students at East and West, who may feel stigmatized by being left out of PMSA’s many successes — which include being ranked as the top high school in suburban Cook County by one publication.

The Forest Park building in which PMSA sits used to be an office building owned by Loyola University Medical Center. It was purchased and retrofitted by District 209 for $40 million.

Video of the third master facilities plan meeting at Proviso East on Feb. 27. | YouTube 

Joliceour said that a fourth community engagement session is scheduled to take place on April 24 to discuss more details about the possible options. He said that the firm will have a draft facilities master plan completed by May to present to the board in June. VFP 

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26 thoughts on “Architects, Public Ponder Merging PMSA Campus With East And/Or West”

  1. I can only pray that PMSA is eliminated. All of East and West problems started because of this school. Must be nice to play God and decide who is worthy to be admitted. My taxes pay for all schools in 209. PMSA was the worst decision and I will be jumping for joy at its demise.

    1. Eliminating PMSA would be a HUGE mistake! What draws people to a community–or drives them away, is often the schools. PMSA is one of the highest rated schools in the Chicacgo & suburban area. We are trying to revitalize Maywood, and although it may be too slow for some it is happening.
      The houses are looking much better, T&JJ is attracting attention with top notch jazz, we are holding events to attract people to the area and what better asset for us to boast about than one of the best high schools around!
      We just need to keep raising the standards and involvement within the community, we are getting there–lets applaud what makes us great

      1. TOM K: I respect your opinion. I understand that Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy is in the top-notch magnet schools in the Chicagoland area. But, what about the high schools of Proviso East and Proviso West? They were there before PMSA! I am a high believer of public education. You’re right that the Proviso Township needs to keep raising the standards and having community involvement, but we can’t forget about the students of Proviso East and Proviso West. Every child deserves a high quality education!

      2. TOM K: Q:) Are you sure that the houses in Maywood are getting better? There are some houses that are still boarded up. Whenever I travel to Maywood, I still see vacant lots, and roads on Washington Blvd. between 19th Ave. and 5th Ave. that looks horrible for a driver to drive through.

    2. Where have you been? Proviso East & West have been ranked poorly far before PMSA was in existence. So the students that get into PMSA that have high academic sucess should suffer?! Oh please.

  2. @ JFlores – that is a selfish statement and it sounds like YOUR student was not privy to gain entrance. PMSA is an award winning and highly notable academic institution.

    It should be a separate entity, just as the high caliber schools in other townships.

    The Real issue should be on improving East and West to be just as stellar. Don’t lower PMSA, better to elevate the other two campuses.

    1. SHE: The high schools of Proviso East and Proviso West is definitely improving, thanks to the hiring of principals Dr. Patrick J. Hardy and Dr. Nia Abdullah, thanks to the board members of 209 (Proviso Together).

      1. BOB MEYER: Thank you, Bob! I am telling the truth. I have been attending the board of education meetings and seeing the live streamed meetings on their official YouTube channel. I challenge the residents in Maywood and the Proviso Township to come to the board of education meetings, and you will be amazed of the progressive changes that is taking place at Proviso East and Proviso West high schools.

  3. WE have not been good shepards. Whenever elitists are created, there is a coexisting, neglected underclass who suffer, greatly. Put the family back together. Let go of the egos, Please

  4. Eliminating a school with high standards and considered one of the best high schools in the surrounding areas only goes to show that district 209 does not seem to care about their educational standards. For years East and West have had horrible academic reputation. Perhaps they should focus on elevating their goals for East and West and find out what is going on at PMSA that the other schools lack. Don’t eliminite the one school that actually succeeds. It is a selective school for individuals who actually excel. The other schools should focus on strengthening the academic skills of their respective students.

    1. TERESA RAMIREZ: What happened at the high schools of Proviso East and Proviso West, was just that the high schools was failing the children, but some of the school board members that was running the schools was also corrupt. This was before the board members of Proviso Together came on board. I don’t know if you recall that the former board members were apart of a political machine that wasn’t into the students at Proviso East and Proviso West. Years of cronyism (hiring illegal families and friends that weren’t qualified), contract bids for the political campaigns, and having permanent substitute teachers instead of full-time certified/qualified teachers, and a board that approved a $400,000 settlement to pay off the legal fees that was coming out of the tax dollars of the Proviso Township. I am not lying! Read this article:

      http://www.forestparkreview.com/News/Articles/7-31-2012/Welch-settles-libel-suit-and-other-District-209-news

  5. I was at the Master Facility Planning at Proviso East High School. In my opinion, I believe that we should eliminate Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy! Because that is our tax dollars from the Proviso Township that could have been used to improve the high schools of Proviso East and Proviso West. I am a firm believer in public education! We must build a partnership to allow our children living in the Proviso Township to be wonderful human beings.

    Having a charter and magnet school or school vouchers in my opinion is taking tax dollars from property taxes and it will de-fund public education schools. And, if your child has a disability, “physical or intellectual”, your child is not going to get in. So…we’re taking the cream of the crop. Every child deserves a high quality education, not just an academic education, but social and emotional education.

    PMSA should not have been build, and the former board members at that time was treating symptoms of how to keep families from not moving out of the Proviso Township, and not treating the root causes. If you want to make solve this problem…I truly believe nothing stops like “opportunities.” I challenge people who are reading this post, to attend the next Master Facility Plan on April 24th. Knock on your neighbors’ doors, tell your friends, families, and alumni’s to come to this. The high schools of the Proviso Township belongs to us, and we must have our voice be heard, and make sure that Perkins + Will is accountable.

  6. If you want your tax dollars to go DOWN, have the people of Maywood, Bellwood, Melrose Park, Broadview, Westchester, and Hillside vote to become CITIES, thus eliminating Proviso Township. Or cote to have Proviso Township become a city.

  7. I’m a former teacher from District 89. I was estatic that my students who strives worked hard and did everything they were supposed to do to get noticed for once.
    I’m sorry to say-those students at PMSA deserve their spots and to be separated from the others.
    PMSA is a great opportunity for those students who had to continually deal with other students who for whatever reasons got most of the same benefits as PMSA qualificatied students for doing a little of nothing.
    And yes I too feel we aren’t doing our students justice. However don’t take away from our PMSA students to support our other students.
    I agree with the person that made the comment take the things that PMSA are doing well and implement some of them in East and West. But do not take away from those who’ve worked so hard a dreamed about PMSA did years.

    1. @PONQUINETTE: So can I ask you this. Do you think every child deserves a high quality education? What about the students at Proviso East and Proviso West? Do you think they are throwaways? There are staff, teachers, and people at Proviso East and Proviso West who are working so hard and are on the front line.

      1. Yes every student does deserve a high quality education. And nope noooo student is a throw away. However- I’ve noticed the huge change in the outlook of some students with their education and they need more nurturing guidance support assistance where as the students at PMSA can push forward without the hold backs of the others.
        Education has really started to focus on those students that need more support and the high performing ones are starting to become invisible.
        As I stated before- you decided to assume- I feel the other schools should discuss meet and see what PMSA is doing and implement those strategies as well at East and West.
        All students should have the opportunity to succeed. However I don’t feel the others should have to be held back to accommodate the others.
        Have a wonderful day.

  8. East and west have had problems since the beginning as a student in the sixth grade I used to hear of the violence that happened at proviso east and west. As for your tax dollars, your tax dollars go into all three of the district 209 schools evenly! Nobody is playing god with the acceptance of the children and we allow disabled people in our school whether handicap or educationally challenged. Nobody is forgetting about east and west clearly, considering as they are also dissolving pmsa so they can put funds into remodeling east and west. Every child deserves a high quality education, but not everyone chooses it, I know many students that did not want the academic push that pmsa gives I know many students who simply did not want to go to pmsa because it doesn’t have a gym. Back to east and west they have much violence can you put your tax dollars into that? A student at east told me they had three fights in one week, there was also a threatened shooting at proviso east and west, was that the corrupt board members? No, it was teenagers, have you heard of that at pmsa? The students at pmsa care about their academic success I care about my academic success and I feel I could get these advantages at pmsa. We get the good test scores to earn the funding. You can not force academic greatness on people they have to want it!!! So to all the parents that don’t know whether or not your child wants the academic push I suggest you ask them, how fair is it that you kick the students that want to belong in a school that pushes you hard to schools where some teachers could care less if the student passes (our teachers care and do everything in their power to make sure we do not fail their class). Did you know that the reason that many people do not attend east and west is because they leave to other districts, they would rather move then go to east and west, how are you going to eliminate the best school in the district over tax dollars. Those people that leave and take their children to other districts are tax dollars that we are losing. So all of those parents that are complaining about tax dollars get over it! It is not worth bringing those who care down to a level where they are not challenged like they could’ve been at pmsa!!!

  9. I guess what some of you propose is that because some students do not excel as others, we need to take away the opportunity from those who can actually make the most out of it? Do you really think that because you are bringing good students to the mess that exists at east and west, it is going to get better? Just count how many students are in these two schools. It will just ruin it for everyone.

    What’s the message to our kids? Maybe that if they don’t make it to enjoy an opportunity or a privilege based on merit that opportunity should be taken away from everyone? That’s what some of you are saying here, shouldn’t we instead tell them to keep trying so that when the next opportunity presents itself they have a chance to take it? Paying our taxes is irrelevant here, we all do, then are we going to change public colleges too? Not every one makes it to the good ones right? Not every one gets a full ride either right? Oh let’s just take that away too.

  10. Closing or merging PMSA with Proviso East or West would be detrimental to students at PMSA. Board members would punish the children that do their best in this district to eliminate spending. PMSA students can currently focus on their academic work without the worries of disruptive students or constant fighting and other interruptions. Unfortunately, some students and parents are not willing to take on the challenge and responsiblity that comes with PMSA. Teachers and students alike carry a higher expectation and understanding for their cirriculum. While I agree completely, East and West should be held to the same core values and standards that have been set at PMSA but this won’t happen overnight. There has to be a better solution.

  11. All I can say is this…people need to attend the next Master Facility Plan that will be on April 24th at PMSA. Please tell your friends, families, and neighbors and help spread the word. That is the only way…you will definitely see what’s going on with Perkins + Will.

  12. The main reason I live and remained in Maywood is because PMSA and as a parent of 3, I care for the education of my children. I personally know families that attend Proviso East and are not happy with the violence and the academic level. These same families are looking to leave Maywood. I believe every student deserves a higher quality education and that is the reason that as a parent I push my kids to study hard and excel in their education. My son studied hard to get into PMSA. I am very concerned of this possible merge and quite honestly I fear of everything negative that has been said about East. My son and his friends are building a lot of stress on this. Time will only tell, and I would hate to move to another city if things don’t improve.

  13. I cannot believe the school board would contemplate removing the campus of a school that is succeeding every single day. Just like any other magnet school in the city and beyond, you are required to test into the school. This is because the school pushes you academically. This is not the best scenario for every student! Not because the pmsa students are superior or more deserving of the push. It is because they are ready. If students who were not ready were pushed like this, they would be frustrated. Every student deserves to feel safe in school. But eliminating pmsa would not accomplish that. If there was a class of first graders and two were ready to read at a third grade level, should they wait until the class is all ready, or should they be challenged? Ask yourself thr same question about the high school students.

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