Tag: Ned Wagner

D209 Approves Nepotism Policy, Teacher Contract

Thursday, December 21, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

During the Dec. 12 regular meeting, the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 school board voted on a series of financial and policy proposals that board members had been debating over the last few months.

Continue reading “D209 Approves Nepotism Policy, Teacher Contract”

D209 Board Heatedly Debates Nepotism Policy Changes

Saturday, December 2, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

During a Nov. 7 regular board meeting, a series of proposed changes to the nepotism policy at Proviso Township High Schools District 209 prompted a heated debate between school board members about whether or not the changes are necessary. 

The changes, introduced by board member Ned Wagner, who heads up the board’s Policy Committee, would prevent anyone related to, or in business with, a sitting board member from working in the district for as long as that board member is in office.

Continue reading “D209 Board Heatedly Debates Nepotism Policy Changes”

D209 Creates Parent Coordinator Positions

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 || By Thomas Vogel/Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

The Proviso District 209 Board of Education approved the hiring of two new “parent coordinator” positions, at its June 13 meeting.

Eva Kardaras and Delinda Hyde, (pictured left to right in feature photo), each with a one-year contract for $46,000, started work July 15. The pair is tasked with running the district’s two new parent centers — information clearinghouses and community-resource hubs — meant to further the district’s goal of building relationships with outside partners and Proviso residents.

Continue reading “D209 Creates Parent Coordinator Positions”

D209 Re-ups with Food Service Contractor Despite Frustrations

Aramark food.jpgFriday, July 14, 2017 || By Thomas Vogel/Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

The Proviso District 209 Board of Education approved a new one-year roughly $1.1 million contract with Aramark Education Services for the upcoming school year, despite strong criticism from school officials and board members at its July 11 board meeting.

Aramark has provided food services to District 209 for the past seven school years but recently there has been a significant dip in student participation and anecdotal complaints from both students and board members about the quality of food. But, given the bidding process timeline, including complying with Illinois state law, and the new 2017-2018 school year starting in about a month, the board needed to move forward with finding a food vendor and voted to approve the contract.

“I have zero confidence in this company,” Dr. Patrick Hardy, Proviso East’s principal, said of Aramark. “I want to say that I am sad that they’re here. This is one of the most frustrating moments I’ve had in my time here. ”

District 209 began the process of finding a new food service provider in March in an effort to see greater student participation along with expanded food options, including heathier meals, according to documents in its March 14 meeting packet. The Illinois State Board of Education must approve food service contracts to ensure compliance with federal and state lunch program guidelines.

Four companies responded to a bid request in May, with Aramark submitting the lowest quote by about $8,000. Illinois state law requires school district’s to award contracts worth more than $25,000 to the lowest bidder.

Board President Theresa Kelly and Board Member Samuel Valtierrez, whose kids are students in the district, abstained from the vote.

Board members and school officials, including District 209 Supt. Dr. Jesse Rodriguez and Hardy, criticized Aramark’s past performance at the meeting and cautioned company representatives present at the meeting that while the business relationship would continue, it was imperative the district see significant improvements to their level of service.

“The best predictor of future performance is past performance…If I was to bet on this, I am going to bet it’s not going to happen,” Rodríguez said. “It won’t happen because the past performance shows that you have a bad track record. Let’s fix that.”

Aramark reps said there has been management changes at the company and that they were willing to work toward satisfying the board.

“In any district, students are likely to have complaints with something about the food,” an Aramark spokesperson at the July 11 meeting said. “But we know that we are here to serve the students and make sure they’re nourished because we know and believe that their nourishment is very closely tied to their academic success.”

Kelly requested twice weekly updates from school principals and Rodríguez said the district would have audits throughout the year to keep taps on the food service.

Board Member Ned Wagner said he’s heard students reporting “abysmal, horrible food” from Aramark.

“We were very sad to see the level of service that we were seeing last year from Aramark,” Rodriguez said. “It was quite embarrassing for me as the superintendent to see those students and the quality of service they were getting.”

Hardy added he’s seen Aramark serve spoiled milk and bread and burnt pizza and has the photographic evidence. He also told Aramark representatives his students merit a better level of service.

In a July 13 email to the Review, Hardy declined to share the photos.

“I have zero confidence in what Aramark will do for my students. I will say this publicly because it’s how I feel. I only see one difference between my students and the students they serve well and they better figure out how to serve race and poverty because I’m not gonna tolerate it and I’m not gonna fall on my sword for Aramark,” Hardy said, to loud applause from audience members. “If they serve other students well, they better figure out how to serve my students because they deserve it too.”

The reported decrease in student participation, according the March board documents, was about 50 percent. This drop occurred “even though there is no cost for breakfast and/or lunch” for students. District 209, in 2015, began participating in the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) which reimburses school districts in low-income areas for meal costs, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s website.

“Our students deserve better,” Kelly said of the current quality of food service. VFP

Photo above: Aramark 

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New D209 Board Majority Sworn Into Office, Kelly Re-Assumes Presidency

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A screenshot of live video feed posted to Facebook by Proviso Together showing the slate’s four candidates getting sworn into office at PMSA on April 27. 

Friday, April 28, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Three years after members of the Facebook group “Forest Parkers For Better Schools” met inside of Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor in Forest Park to talk about the direction of Proviso Township High Schools District 209, the group is now solidly steering the ship.

In 2015, the group, informally called the “Brown Cow 20,” fielded Proviso Together, a three-person slate of candidates to run for three open school board seats. All three candidates — longtime incumbent board member Teresa Kelly, Claudia Medina and Ned Wagner — won handily.

Two years later, Proviso Together pulled off another sweep, with all four of its candidates — Amanda Grant, Sam Valtierrez, Della Patterson and Rodney Alexander — winning first terms.

At an April 27 special meeting held inside of the cafeteria at Proviso Math and Science Academy, the four new board members were sworn into office by outgoing board president Theresa McKelvy and Kelly re-assumed the presidency after a unanimous vote.

Grant, who garnered the most votes among the 8-person school board race, was voted vice president while Medina was voted secretary.

In 2016, a year after Kelly had been elected board president, she was ousted from that position when board members McKelvy, Brian Cross, Dan Adams and Kevin McDermott voted to shorten the board president’s tenure from two years to one. McKelvy was then voted Kelly’s successor.

With Kelly again at the helm, the new supermajority is hoping that they can pull off a complete overhaul of a district where, fewer than five years ago, Wagner and Medina were worried about sending their children.

On Thursday, both board members announced that each had one child who would be enrolling at PMSA in the fall. Medina said that when her son received his acceptance letter to PMSA, he called Ned’s son.

“[My son] said, ‘No matter what we do, we’re going to stay together,’” Medina said. “We’re all here together.”

In their remarks, all of the board members stressed unity and togetherness, a constant theme of both the 2015 and 2017 campaigns.

“It is time for Proviso to unite and to be one union,” said new board member Sam Valtierrez, of Melrose Park. “We have to break the curse of disunity that has broken our community. We must get involved and let the fear go. [That’s how we’ll] see the transformation of our wonderful schools.”

“There is a wealth of talented and amazing people here,” said Grant. “We have the resources. We pay about $90 million in taxes each year to Proviso District 209. What we needed all along and have been sorely lacking is a unified board of education that understands that students come first.”

“I pledge to be earnest, hardworking, full-time, available and consistent in discharging these responsibilities and duties,” said Alexander. “And most of all, I pledge to work together [with fellow board members] as a team.”

Some board members emphasized the importance of enhancing equity at the district. The issue was a centerpiece of a burgeoning strategic plan that D209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez presented to the public at a meeting at PMSA last week.

“I am fully committed to working with all community stakeholders to ensure that regardless of where your child is enrolled, he or she will have the resources to succeed,” said Patterson.

Patterson added that her focus will be on raising the district’s standard of academic performance, increasing the range and amount of selective courses that are offered and making AP and IB courses more widely available at Proviso East and Proviso West.

Wagner said that he plans on building on the record of accomplishments, particularly in the area of equity, that have been secured during the young tenure of Rodriguez, who was hired roughly a year ago.

“I want to continue working on making our schools a welcoming environment for our kids and parents,” Wagner said, before pointing out a range of measures that have been implemented within the last two years, such as offering more training for security staff at the district and putting in place restorative justice measures at the school a year before the passage of SB 100.

“We were talking about restorative justice a year before SB 100 was passed, which is the law that schools have to do everything they can to keep kids in school rather than just expelling or suspending them,” he said. “We put some good practices in so we’re in really good shape. I want us to build on that, expand on that and create a culture of understanding ad acceptance in our schools so our kids can grow into responsible adults.”

Kelly presented each board member with copies of compasses, “to remind us to measure our progress, because we know that movement does not necessarily mean progress. Each of us as a group has a moral compass that will allow us to know right from wrong, good from bad.”

“We are no longer responsible to the interest of any one person or special group,” Kelly said, “but we are accountable to all of our children and to all of our communities.” VFP

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District 209 to Undertake Master Facilities Plan, Will Select an Architect Soon

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The image of Proviso East High School as it appears on a postcard published by Al’s Service | cardcow.com 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 || By Thomas Vogel for Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

The Proviso School District 209 Board of Education will select an architecture firm at its March 14 meeting to draft a “Master Facilities Plan” for the entire three-school district.

The project, which could cost up to $80,000 and take about six months to complete, will be well worth the investment, District Supt. Jesse Rodriguez said March 3. Right now, the district does not have a comprehensive long-term roadmap for its facilities. Instead, D209 uses a “Capital Construction List.”

The motivation for commissioning a Master Facilities Plan, Rodriguez said, is to give the district a better, more holistic vision for the next 5-10 years and integrate space utilization, curriculum needs, new technological integration, enrollment projections and necessary facility upgrades into one comprehensive document.

“Our district spent many years not addressing the capital needs of our buildings. We are starting the process,” Rodriguez said. “There’s a lot to be done.”

The school board will decide between three firms: Fanning Howey, Perkins+Will, and ARCON. Each firm made their pitch at a special meeting on Feb 21. The presentations, Rodriguez said, were graded by board members on a matrix, using several categories, including architectural project history, educational recommendations for Proviso, and even company culture.

It is unclear how the board will vote. Rodriguez said March 3 it is a “very hard decision.”

But one board member, Forest Parker Ned Wagner, said on Feb. 25 that he favored Perkins+Will, which scored highest on the matrix.

“They had a fabulous presentation,” Wagner said. “They have the clearest vision.”

When reached by phone March 7, Wagner said that having a Master Facilities Plan is one of the conditions for the state-mandated Financial Oversight Panel to leave the district and concurred with Rodriguez about the positive return on investment.

Requests for comment from board members Claudia Medina, Teresa McKelvy and Brian Cross were not returned by press time.

For now, exact terms of the any agreement remain unsettled.

Perkins+Will has offices across the United States, but the firm was founded in Chicago in the 1930s, according to its website. Perkins+Will did not return a request for comment by press time.

Fanning Howey has several offices across the Midwest, including Oak Brook, and has completed projects in several Chicago-area schools in Deerfield and Waukegan. Fanning Howey did not return a request for comment by press time.

Lombard-based ARCON has worked in several suburbs, too, including Evanston and Hanover Park. An ARCON spokesperson, Richard Cozzi, said he wasn’t briefed on the details of the on the Proviso presentation and declined comment. VFP


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Candidates Begin Filing for Proviso, D89 School Board Races


Tuesday, December 13, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || By Jackie Glosniak

With the Cook County Clerk’s Office accepting applications for prospective candidates for the April 4 school board elections through Dec. 19, eight people on Monday officially threw their hats into the ring for seats on the Proviso Township High Schools  District 209 Board of Education.

With several days left for election petitions, the two sides representing personal and operational difference on the existing board already have clear candidates for next spring’s election.

As of Dec. 13, the following District 209 candidates (barring petition challenges) are signed up to run for election for a full, 4-year school board term (in alphabetical order):

  •  Daniel Adams (incumbent)
  •  Rodney Alexander
  •  Brian Cross (incumbent)
  •  Amanda Grant
  •  Teresa McKelvy (incumbent)
  •  Arbdella “Della” Patterson
  •  Samuel Valtierrez
  •  Jacqueline Walton

The current board members with Forest Park ties, Claudia Medina, Ned Wagner and Theresa Kelly are not up for re-election until April 2019, but they will be backing four new individuals in alignment with their 209 Together coalition to bring change for all Proviso students, with the goal of ridding what they consider excessive political influence on the D209 school board.

According to Medina, candidates and political newcomers Rodney Alexander, Amanda Grant, Della Patterson and Samuel Valtierrez are planning to campaign with her slate’s same message of grassroots change.

Medina says the four candidates, who have either had children in the district or are planning on sending their children to Proviso schools within the next few years, are pleased with her slate’s work toward enacting positive changes district-wide.

“In a year and a half, it is unfathomable that we have been able to drive [this] much change,” she said. “These are parents and engaged community members who are thrilled with what has been happening with Proviso and want to continue driving all of the reforms, platforms, transformations, curriculum and direction for the district that has been brought about ever since we got elected.”

Wagner said that, over all, he has been pleased with his experience on the school board and, like Medina, is glad to see fresh faces set on campaigning on behalf of the community and in alignment with 209 Together’s goals.

“The true work of being on the board of education is a wonderful experience,” Wagner said. “One of the things that has been really amazing about being on the board is that we’re out in the community, we’re meeting people, and then people see change is really possible and actually happening. There’s a transformation in our school district going on.”

However, Wagner reiterated that, while he and his former campaign partners continue to work together with community outreach and frequently voting opposite the current board majority, 209 Together is not an entity separate from the district.

“I want to make clear that we’re not a political party,” he said.

Medina has high hopes for Alexander, Grant, Patterson and Valtierrez, saying they have been closely following 209 Together’s mission to strive for district excellence and would be great assets to the district.

“These are all people who know what’s going on, have been following us for a few years and want to come on board to continue driving transformation for Proviso because it will change the greater community,” she said.

Aside from Adams, Cross and McKelvy, board member Kevin McDermott is also up for re-election in April. However, as of press time, he has not submitted petitions to campaign to keep his seat.

Adams, Cross, McKelvy and McDermott did not respond to the Forest Park Review’s requests for comment.

Three have filed for District 89 school board 

Three candidates have filed to run for the three open seats on the District 89 school board.

They include incumbents Regina Rivers and Veronica Bonilla-Lopez, and challenger Sally Alondra Casillas.

To keep up with candidate filings, visit the Cook County Clerk’s site here. VFP

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