D209 Renews Alternative Learning Program Partnership With West 40

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: The Proviso East Evening School’s Class of 2016 during a May 19, 2016 commencement ceremony. | File 

As of June, according to District 209 data, 630 students at Proviso East and 705 students at Proviso West, or around 27 percent and 29 percent of the student body at those schools, respectively, were missing more than one credit while 570 East students were identified as chronically truant.

During a July 10 regular meeting, the District 209 school board took steps to reduce those numbers when it unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with the West 40 Intermediate Service Center, pending legal review, to help operate the district’s Alternative Learning Opportunities Program at a cost of nearly $900,000.

The program is comprised of three components. The DREAM component is designed to provide credit-deficient students with an opportunity to recover credits during the school day.

The PEACE component provides students at risk of not graduating due to behavior-related issues the opportunity to recover credits “in a facility separate from the regular school environment,” according to information provided by district officials.

The Seniors Plus component helps seniors who have been in school for at least five years complete their graduation requirements.

The district has operated the ALOP program with West 40 since January 2015, when it was called the Proviso Evening School Program, said Nicole Howard, D209’s assistant superintendent for academics and student and family services, during last month’s board meeting.

At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, the district expanded the DREAM component and introduced the Seniors Plus component.

Last school year, 140 students in District 209, including 65 at East and 75 at West, were enrolled in the DREAM program. Eighty-nine students were enrolled in the DREAM summer program, including 36 at East and 53 at West. Fifty-eight students, including 30 at East and 38 at West, were enrolled in the Seniors Plus program while 15 total students enrolled in the Seniors Plus summer program.

During last school year, 34 students in the district, including 22 at East and 12 at West, were enrolled in the PEACE program. Nine students at East and West attended the PEACE summer program.

The cost of operating the ALOP program for the 2018-19 school year was estimated at nearly $900,000.

The district will pay an estimated $660,000 to employ eight teachers in personalized learning centers at East and West. It will cost an estimated $508,000 for West 40 to employ 15 additional staff members. The district will cover 54 percent of that cost. The district will pay for the ALOP program out of local funds.

During the July 10 meeting, D209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez lauded the partnership with West 40, adding that without the partnership the district would be paying around $1.3 million to operate the ALOP program on its own.

“There is value in the partnership and there are cost savings,” Rodriguez said. “This is fiscally responsible and we’re providing more services for students.”

But there is room for improvement, district officials indicated. The attendance rate for the PEACE program was roughly 50 percent while only 32 percent of the 140 students enrolled in the DREAM program last school year closed the credit deficiency gap. Only 30 percent of fourth-year students in the DREAM program met graduation requirements and only 33 percent of students in the Seniors Plus Program met their graduation requirements.

District officials said that the goals for the 2018-19 school year are to increase the number of DREAM and Seniors Plus participants who meet their graduation requirements by 20 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

They also want to increase the number of students who close the credit deficiency gap by 32 percent and the number of students who regularly attend the PEACE program by 30 percent, among other goals district officials have for all three ALOP components. VFP 

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