Tag: Proviso Township District 209

‘There’s an Energy at Work at Proviso East and D209,’ Notes Forest Park Review Editorial

Principal Hardy 2

Proviso East Principal Patrick Hardy walks the cafeteria at Proviso East High School in 2016. | Forest Park Review File

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 || By Forest Park Review Editorial Board || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

Last Thursday, the editorial staff of the Review took a field trip to Proviso East and to the school district’s administrative offices atop the Proviso Math and Science Academy. It was a gratifying and encouraging excursion as we sat down first for a conversation with Dr. Jesse Rodriguez, the new District 209 superintendent, and then toured East with both Rodriguez and Dr. Patrick Hardy, the school’s principal.

There is an energy at work at Proviso East and in the district headquarters that is radically improved from even the recent past. Rodriguez and Hardy share a charisma and an intensity that is seemingly contagious. You see it in the enthusiastic and personal interactions with colleagues, from security guards to teachers to school secretaries.

With Hardy, who appears to be omnipresent within the hallways and classrooms of East, you see it and appreciate it most in his casual and purposeful connections to students. Walking through a lunchroom — a space that is calm and happy — he is pointing to individual students who soon gather around our group and with a minimal prompt introduce themselves with poise. Ask them anything, he says, and the students tell of why they are at East and what their experience has been.

East is an old building where perpetually bad district management left most all maintenance on the long-deferred list. But last summer the district invested $7 million in invisible and unglamorous fixes. And with diligent work, the building is clean and welcoming, its hallways filled with attentive adults and a diverse student body, which on this day was relaxed and focused as it moved from class to class.

For Forest Park, a village that has consciously turned its back on this school over decades, Hardy is encouraged that so far this school year he has hosted four groups of Forest Parkers for tours after seeing none in his first year at the school. And last night, after press time, the district’s rolling listening tour came to Forest Park’s own village hall. This is, of course, unheard of.

A couple of years back in our last visit to the fifth-floor lair of district administrators at PMSA, we found an entrance locked to any casual visitor, darkened hallways and an array of mostly empty, beige offices. And that doesn’t even touch the subject of the defensiveness of the administrator we talked with then.

Now with Rodriguez having gathered most of his team to the same floor, having put some color on the walls and some school mascots on display, the HQ felt purposeful and on the offensive. Rodriguez and the district’s new communications person, Cynthia Moreno, actually offered documents and data and went and found more information on student demographics and enrollment that we asked for.

This was a confident and realistic welcome by administrators who have an actual plan of action, who acknowledge the abiding challenges of the district but seem determined and hopeful that they are already seeing the first signs of momentum among students, teachers, parents and the Proviso community.

With a school board election in April, Forest Parkers can support this developing momentum by paying attention and engaging. VFP

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D209 to Kickoff Community Town Hall Meetings in Maywood, Tonight, Sept. 22, 6:30 PM

Rep. Welch Town Hall

Thursday, September 22, 2016 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR || @maywoodnews

[By PROVISO TOWNSHIP DISTRICT 209] The Proviso Township High Schools District 209 Board of Education and Dr. Jesse J. Rodríguez, superintendent for District 209, will host a series of town hall meetings in each of the 10 villages that are within the district, beginning with Maywood on Thursday, September 22.

The town hall meetings, which will each take place between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., are an opportunity for parents and community members in each village to meet with Board members and Dr. Rodríguez, ask questions, and learn more about the direction of District 209.

“Our schools are your schools, and we value all input from members of the community,” Dr. Rodríguez said. “We welcome parents and other residents of our villages to dialogue with us on the direction our schools should go.”

One or more members of the Board of Education also will be in attendance. Mrs. Teresa D. McKelvy, president of the Board of Education, said that this is “a wonderful opportunity for our parents and community members to meet our new Superintendent and collaborate with the Board of Education.”

“We value your ideas, so come out and lend your voice to assist us in our efforts of being more inclusive,” she said.

Town hall meetings during the first semester of the 2016-2017 school year will take place on the following dates:

  • Thursday, September 22 – Maywood Village Council Chambers (125 South Fifth Avenue in Maywood)
  • Monday, October 3 – Stone Park Village Hall (1825 North 32nd Avenue in Stone Park)
  • Thursday, October 27 – Melrose Park Civic Center (1000 North 25th Avenue in Melrose Park)
  • Monday, November 14 – Hillside Elementary School (4804 Harrison Street in Hillside)
  • Monday, December 5 – Westchester Public Library (10700 Canterbury Street in Westchester)

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D209 Approves New PMSA Entrance Guidelines

Entrance guidelines.jpg

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || By Jackie Glosniak 

To alleviate the headaches involved in applying to the Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA), the District 209 Board of Education presented a plan for new admission and entrance guidelines for applicants to PMSA beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year.

Earlier this summer, the board created a PMSA Admission Advisory Committee, consisting of board members, parents, community stakeholders and district administrators to examine the entire process — everything from what exam is administered to how and when the school would alert parents about the status of their child’s application.

Board member Claudia Medina was one of the members of the committee who said, based on negative community feedback about PMSA’s application process, that the formation of new guidelines was necessary.

“What we tried to do was open the conversation of the challenges that students and families in the district have had with the entrance exam for PMSA,” Medina said. “We were trying to see and revise the criteria use for entrance exams.”

For the past few years, PMSA was using the Explore exam to test prospective students and incorporate student scores as a large percentage of their admission ranking. But the Explore exam was created to test how ninth-graders nationwide would perform on the ACT, and the ACT exam was scrapped this spring by the state in favor of the SAT exam for high school juniors. Therefore, the committee felt using an outdated exam would not be a good measure for predicting academic performance among future students.

Medina said PMSA Principal Bessie Karvelas chose the PSAT as the new entrance exam for prospective students to better reflect a true measure of academic performance aligned with the new state-mandated SAT.

Another change the committee made was updating the timeline for the district to alert parents about whether their children had been selected for admission into PMSA.

Previously, the district found many parents had issues with turnaround times between when they were hearing from PMSA and when they had to make alternative high school entrance decisions, including having their children attend either Proviso East or West, attend a private school or even move out of the district if none of those options were desirable.

Medina said many parents became angry when they did not receive a decision from PMSA in a timely enough manner. In order to avoid waiting until the last minute to decide where their children were going, many would move out of district before hearing from PMSA or spend hundreds of dollars on applications and deposits for private schools, money and decisions that could not be changed or refunded.

“People had to put these expensive deposits down and gamble whether or not they would actually be entering PMSA,” Medina said. “We changed the date so that it coincides prior to being required to pay deposits for private schools. That saves parents money.

“We worked to find a better formula to communicate, execute and improve the way in which PMSA entrance examinations were handled,” she added.

Board member Ned Wagner agreed with Medina that the time was right to establish better, more consistent guidelines for PMSA entrance.

“What had been happening over the last few years was the criteria was sort of different than the year before,” Wagner said. “We wanted to have the same district and entrance requirements every year and wanted a more transparent process.”

For next year, Medina said, the district is also looking at better ways to promote PMSA entrance to area students, including updated advertisements, newspaper postings and meetings with feeder elementary school districts. VFP

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