Tag: Teresa McKelvy

D209 board votes to streamline architect hiring process


Tuesday, December 6, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || By Jackie Glosniak || @maywoodnews

In yet another clash — both personal and policy related — the Proviso Township High Schools Board of Education ended last week’s special meeting divided on how to handle selecting a new architecture firm. In the end, the board majority chose to make the selection with limited input from the public and the administration.

On Nov. 29, the board met at Proviso Math and Science Academy to hear from Superintendent Jesse Rodriguez regarding where the district currently stands in the selection process and to vote on moving forward.

Rodriguez explained that the process started last year, and he presented the board with completed requests for qualifications and matrixes utilized per the request of some school board members who formed an advisory committee with administrators, Financial

Oversight Panel members, and residents to work together on process input.

With requests for qualifications completed by 11 firms using guidelines provided by the board, Rodriguez presented information to allow the board to make a decision.

“The intent for tonight is to review the requests for qualifications and the matrix, which is in line with the request for qualifications,” Rodriguez said.

But board member Claudia Medina expressed concern that building managers and other administrators were not available at the meeting for questions on the matrix, which was the exact reason she and fellow board members Ned Wagner and Theresa Kelly wanted to further review the selection process.

Rodriguez explained that with the completed questionnaires, there were two options the board could take to move along with hiring.

The first option, which Rodriguez called “Scenario A,” would include three board meetings (two additional plus that evening’s meeting) to further discuss matters. Rodriguez said board members would review the 11 firms, and the administration would crunch the numbers, ranking the firms, and selecting the top six firms for the interview. Following interviews, the board would then select their top three picks and then rank from there to reach a conclusion.

 “Scenario B” would require four meetings total and would involve a more extensive process, with board members and administrators coming together for one day to determine the rankings, followed by three meetings for interviews and discussion, leading to a selection of finalists.

“[The process] does require a lot of work and time of you, but I think for the sake of keeping this going, I can explain the documents we have here so that everyone is aware,” Rodriguez said. “Then, as a board, you can engage in discussion about how you will move forward.”

Having interested firms fill out extensive questionnaires was done by the request of board members and the advisory committee using categories Rodriguez said were completely aligned with the requests for qualifications.

“Moving forward, my recommendation to you is to use this rating scale,” he said.

Medina, however, said neither scenario would be inclusive of the work and input that people outside of the board and administration provided in earlier discussions regarding the hiring.

“This work has already been completed extensively and exhaustively,” she said, “and I think that to not allow the courtesy to the rest of the people who participated, gave their time, volunteered their time, who have studied this extensively — to not participate in this is offensive and gives us a complete lack of knowledge and moving forward blindly.”

Medina said it seemed frivolous to disregard the opinions of people other than board members when making a decision that will affect the entire district.

“There’s some of us that have already read all of these proposals,” she said. “We’ve had this material since March of last year. I think we’ve been given ample time to go through this.”

Board President Teresa McKelvy disagreed with Medina, saying the process would start to become too convoluted if people not formally appointed to serve the district were involved.

“To be honest with you, when you start incorporating a lot of people, it starts to become confusing,” McKelvy said. “This is information that we can read [and] dissect ourselves.”

When Medina said she disagreed, McKelvy replied, “That’s fine. I gave you your time to talk, please give me my time to talk. For the most part, being aligned with things in the past, we didn’t bring in administrators.”

McKelvy said she preferred Scenario A to move the process forward.

“This gives us three opportunities to go through the information and decide what we want to do. With Scenario B, this brings in additional meetings once we start incorporating other people. I do believe this is something we can handle. I think we can do this without administrators and FOP input.”

Board member Theresa Kelly sided with Medina, saying she didn’t want to neglect the opinions of other administrators and the public.

“It’s very hard for board members to come to meetings and schedule anything,” Kelly said. “Our time should be on children — that’s what we’re here for; to make sure children are learning and not architects.”

Board secretary Brian Cross struck back, saying that Kelly had spent unnecessary time at previous board meetings discussing the issue.

“You’ve spent 45 percent of our board meetings asking questions every single meeting for four months on architects,” he said.

McKelvy said that all board members should be involved but not the public.

“I do feel like the board can do this work,” she said.

Medina said, “You want to find an architect that’s going to work the best for the district, but … you want no input from the administration and no input from the people actually doing the repair and maintenance?”

McKelvy said that Medina and a few other board members did not totally seek the opinion of all other board members when holding advisory committee meetings with outsiders.

“We were not aware of that committee and you know it,” she said.

Kelly said, “Everyone was aware of it so you can stop that.”

At the end of the discussions, board members McKelvy, Daniel Adams, Brian Cross and Kevin McDermott cast votes for Scenario A.

“To me, this is business as usual for Proviso,” Kelly said following the vote.

Before calling to adjourn, McKelvy said, “How is this business as usual when this is a committee of the whole? I believe this is work that the board of education can do.” VFP

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F E A T U R E D  E V E N T 


D209 Food Service, Asbestos Bids Approved Amid questions

Proviso East HighTuesday, June 21, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || By Jackie Glosniak

Despite questions surrounding the quality of the food service provided for the Proviso Township High Schools, the school board voted 4-3 to renew the district’s food service contract with Aramark Educational Services LLC at the District 209 Board of Education meeting on June 14.

The district entered into a contract with Aramark on July 1, 2015 as a one-year agreement with the option to renew for an additional four years, with this year’s renewal being the first. With the board’s vote to renew, there will be a fee increase from Aramark of 0.7 percent. The approval for the additional year of service has a cost not to exceed $1.5 million.

Prior to the board’s narrow approval of Aramark’s renewal, board member Claudia Medina expressed her concern that the board should exercise caution when approving a food service that she has heard students are not fond of.

“I can’t sit here and approve some food service that the kids find disgusting and they’re hungry at the end of the day,” Medina said.

Proviso Chief Financial Officer Todd Drafall responded that the school is aware of dissatisfaction among students and staff and will respond to the vendor accordingly.

“We sent a very clear message that they need to step up their game,” Drafall said. “If, by November, we don’t see any improvement, we give them notice and start the [vendor search] process.”

Medina disagreed and expressed concern that continuing subpar service would be a waste of money. She urged the board to postpone the approval and research other companies as neighboring districts have done in recent years.

“I don’t understand why our district can’t do it when other districts can,” she argued. “Other districts in Illinois do it and turn it around in a month.”

Board President Teresa McKelvy said that for now, the district cannot go without having a food service provider and would give Aramark proper notice should quality suffer.

“We’re not disagreeing with you, but what we’re saying is we will approve this for now because we need this to happen right now and then we will go out for bid,” said McKelvy, noting that in the fall, the board would revisit the contract and student and staff reviews on the food and, if needed, would move forward with a request for proposals process.

Asbestos abatement

At the meeting, board members were also asked to approve asbestos abatement bids for Proviso East and West.

According to the D209 Buildings and Grounds Department, the district is planning on having 20,000 additional square feet of asbestos removed at both campuses at a cost of approximately $10 per square foot.

Several board members had questions regarding the approval, with many wondering when asbestos abatement in the district would come to an end.

“Are there any pictures for East and West to show how much you’ve done, what area you’ve done this in and also what’s left to do so that we can finish this? This has been costing us a lot of money,” board member Theresa Kelly asked.

Building manager Ronald Anderson said the department will produce documents for the board depicting the exact areas where asbestos has been removed and what areas still have a heavy concentration needing removal for safety purposes.

“We try to do as much at one time because of high costs,” Anderson said.

He added that the district has followed county regulations every time abatement occurs and having air quality professionals check out the campuses before staff and students are admitted back to the buildings.

Anderson also said that when a small fire occurred a few years back at Proviso East, some unexpected abatement costs occurred during that time.

Board member Kevin McDermott agreed with board members that abatement seems to be never-ending.

“As I recall during the fire, every time we opened up a wall or ceiling there was stuff we didn’t expect, like windows [with asbestos],” he said. “Realistically, is there an end or do we keep discovering this stuff because at the time these schools were built this was the miracle material?”

Given the age of the buildings, Anderson said, there might never be an end at Proviso East of totally abating all asbestos and that it may be a continuing operational cost.

The board carried the motion to accept the superintendent’s recommendation to approve the lowest asbestos abatement bid from Husar Abatement in Franklin Park at a cost not to exceed $175,908. VFP

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Proviso Youths See Google, Tech World Close Up

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Nikyah Little, left , and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th), experience Google Cardboard viewers, which take wearers on a wraparound 3-D trip of virtual reality. Davis hosted a youth tech summit on June 17 at Google’s new Chicago headquarters. Below, Brittany Orr, left, and Barbara Cole, during the summit. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal

Google summit_B Cole and OrrMonday, June 20, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || @village_free || Updated: 6:05 p.m.

It was Brittany Orr’s first time at Google’s chic new Chicago headquarters. The 19-year-old graduate of Proviso East High School wants to break into computer coding and network security, but could see herself checking in at the high-tech 10-story office building with wraparound views of the Chicago skyline.

“I like it here,” said Orr, who had come at the insistence of Barbara Cole, the executive director of Maywood Youth Mentoring. “I wish I worked here, actually.”

Orr was one of at least 100 young people from the western suburbs and Chicago’s West Side who attended the June 17 Youth Technology Initiative hosted by U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th).

Davis said the tech summits are designed to bring young people, particularly minorities and young women, face-to-face with leaders in business, technology and government. The summit at Google, his office noted, is the first in a series of others that will take place inside tech hotspots. Another will be held inside Microsoft’s Loop headquarters.

The congressman said he hopes to make stories like that of Kaitlyn Lee, a recent graduate of Barrington High School who’ll head to Harvard in the fall to study computer science math, routine in schools like Proviso.

The summit couldn’t come at a more pivotal time, according to Bernard Clay, the executive director of Introspect Youth Services who brought a small group of young people who participate in his organization along with him to Google.

“We’re in a race to get as many African-American kids involved in STEM as possible and we need to step up the pace,” Clay said.

Sabrina Chung, Lee’s best friend and co-presenter, fleshed out the opportunity ahead for the enterprising student of color who decides to forge a path in the STEM field.

“The number of computer science jobs will triple by 2020, so just the sheer number of computer engineers we need by this time is huge and we are not fulfilling the number of jobs that we need,” said Chung. “This still leaves 25 percent of the estimated 1.35 million jobs vacant, which is really, really scary. So we just need engineers to fill these jobs. The salaries of these computer scientists is twice the national average.”

But it could be difficult for minority and female students to realize the high pay and prestige of STEM careers, many of the summit’s attendees noted. Just responding to those challenges takes its own kind of innovation.

“You’ll have many, many, many challenges,” said summit presenter Dyani Cox. “But I encourage you today, while you’re here, to not focus on your challenges, but on your endless possibilities. You can do anything you want to do, because there are people to support you.”

Cox, who heads up Black Girls Code’s Chicago chapter, eventually overcame those high hurdles to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering.

Chung and Lee took matters into their own hands and started a computer coding club for girls in response to the intimidation, Lee said, of being one of two girls in her AP computer science class at Barrington High.

Proviso Township District 209 Board President Teresa McKelvy said she brought along around 24 district students to Google. McKelvy said the trip is one part of a more comprehensive plan to expose students in the district to career paths in the tech field.

__ More below the photos __

“Education is moving to blended environments,” McKelvy said. “Most of the children know way more than we did at their age, but technology is here to stay. So we have to keep investing in them and in their education, and provide them with the tools and career paths so they know that options are available We’re trying to put them in contact with organizations like Google and Microsoft to show them the way.”

In addition to networking with leading technology experts, the students also got hands on with one of Google’s newest ‘it’ gadgets — the Google Cardboard viewer, a pair of binocular-shaped cardboard eye pieces that are this century’s DIY equivalent to the View-Master — and a robot named Eragon.

Jackie Moore, the founder of Chicago Knights Robotics, an organization that promotes STEM learning among young people by, among other activities, taking them to robotics competitions, said technology is a metaphor for life in a modern society.

Eragon, Moore said, was built by one of her robotics teams for a competition in Australia, where it won awards for its resilient design. The robot, however, is merely the product of  a much more comprehensive process involving a team of different people with specialized skills, she noted.

“The team is much more than just the robot,” Moore said. “In addition to building the robot, we have to market the robot, recruit students, raise funds and develop an online presence via social media. The way we do robotics is really very holistic. There’s probably not a subject in a class you’ve taken that doesn’t get addressed.”

Davis reinforced Moore’s metaphor, before sharing a high-tech experience of his own.

“In this summit, we’re trying to teach young people not only about technology, but about life,” he said. “Society now is so data-driven that technology is the absolute wave of the future. I’ve seen people using robotics to perform surgery and it’s nothing unusual, you know. The doctors were getting ready to operate and rather than putting on rubber gloves they were pecking on the computer.” VFP

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REVIEW: The D209 Election Starts Now

Proviso Township District 209Wednesday, May 11, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || 5/10/16 || EDITORIAL 

It’s done.

The school board at Proviso High School District 209 has changed its leadership. Out as board president is Theresa Kelly.  In as board president is Teresa McKelvy.

Took a whole lot of disturbing political machinations for the new and narrow board majority to pull off this insider play. Kevin McDermott, the swing vote here, ought to be ashamed of the role he played in this sad game.

The upside though is that after a year of pretty much unqualified success in starting the slow process of turning this failed school district toward the light, the narrow new majority just couldn’t live with its progress, couldn’t avoid embracing the sort of political squabble that has turned the community sharply against it, and, so have now offered absolute clarity to voters on what must be done in school board elections now just 11 months away.

McDermott, McKelvy, Brian Cross and Dan Adams must be decisively turned out of office and replaced with more non-political, community-based, educationally focused board members.

In this silly and unnecessary battle to strip Kelly of her leadership post half-way through her agreed upon term, these four have made crystal clear where their interests and allegiances rest. And it is not with the thousands of young people whose futures have been trampled and ignored by this perpetually failed school board. It is not with taxpayers from nine decent towns whose hard-earned dollars have been taken from them without respect or a determination to right the political and educational malfeasance that has been perpetrated on this district.

This was petty but hardball politics. And its practitioners must be made to pay at the ballot box next April.

As we have said previously, Ms. Kelly was an imperfect board president. Sincere though and focused on students and teachers and the community. Ham-handedly changing board policy in mid-stream to cut the term of a sitting president in half was a ludicrous response to personal disagreements over matters not of educational substance but of alleged slights.

Now is the time for the 209 Together movement to begin its search for a slate of four vital candidates for next April so that this sad district can once and for all be rid of the politics and self-dealing.

Our thanks to the new board majority for so boldly defining the divide between this district’s pathetic political past and its prospects for a much better future.

The campaign for the possibilities of District 209 starts right now. VFP

The views and opinions expressed in this Forest Park Review editorial are those of that publication and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Village Free Press.

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P A I D  A D V E R T I S I N G

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BREAKING: McKelvy Elected D209 School Board President


Friday, May 6, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

During a special meeting held tonight at Proviso Math and Science Academy, the District 209 Board of Education voted in board member Teresa McKelvy, (pictured), as school board president. McKelvy, who replaces former president Theresa Kelly, confirmed her selection in a May 6 Facebook post.

The vote came after a majority of the school board changed board policy to limit the term of the board president from two years to one year, angering many residents who thought the move was politically motivated.

Kelly — who was voted in as board president last year following an election that brought in two new members, Claudia Medina and Ned Wagner, to the board — was in the middle of her first term.

This had been Kelly’s second time as board president. She also served as board president in the early 2000s. Kelly is the longest-serving seated member of the school board. 

Although none of the four board members who voted to change the board policy in the middle of Kelly’s term provided a technical explanation for doing so, many complained of Kelly’s temperament and suitability for the position.

In her Facebook post announcing her election, McKelvy seemed to allude to those criticisms without directly mentioning Kelly.

“As one of seven board members, I will work with all board members to serve District 209 and I will allow the administration to run the district without any interference from me,” McKelvy wrote.

You can read her statement in full, in addition to a statement by board member Brian Cross (who was elected board secretary), below: VFP





Proposed New Grading System Receives An ‘F’ From Proviso Teachers

The Forest Park Review is Now Partnering with The Village Free Press

District 209
Not making the grade: Proviso Teacher’s Union Local #571 President Mona Johnson urges the D209 school board not to adopt the proposed “equal interval” grading scale at the meeting April 8. (JEAN LOTUS/Staff)

Published April 15, 2014 || By Jean Lotus, The Forest Park Review 

A proposed new grading system that would give students an automatic 50 percent grade even if they don’t complete an assignment was a non-starter to the Proviso Township High School District 209 school board Tuesday night.

The grading changes are part of a proposed overhaul from the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee targeted for next fall. The concept is referred to as the Equal Interval Grading Scale. But teachers and parents turned out in force Tuesday, calling the concept a “disaster” during public comments.

Teachers and union reps also argued that a 50-percent “floor” gives students the wrong incentives.

“This policy would diminish and demean the students who turn in their work on time, and reduce incentives for doing work,” said Proviso West History teacher Scott Hendrickson. “Students who spend several hours doing work receive full credit, but students who do no work get half credit? This is not just.

“This does not reflect the real world in any way,” Hendrickson added. “Does the tax accountant receive 50 percent of his fee if he doesn’t do the client’s taxes? Does the employee receive 50 percent of his pay if he doesn’t come to work? When students thank me for earning an ‘A’ I am quick to thank them for working so hard in my class.”

The grading changes were part of a proposed reconfiguration based on research from the book Fair isn’t Always Equal by educational consultant Rick Wormeli, who’s also known for his saying, “grading is the elephant in the room.”

According to D209 administrator Dan Johnson, the 50 percent grade floor was one of several related recommendations, along with policies to hold students accountable — such as denying students the chance to “opt out” of an assignment and a creating more consistent grade-weighting system.

But according to teachers Tuesday, the proposal is flawed.

“I believe the no-zero policy will not have the intended effect, but will be counterproductive in preparing our students beyond high school when they have a chance to compete against students from other high schools,” said Proviso West math teacher Ed McNally. Students who were unmotivated, he predicted, now will only become less motivated.

“I’ve been moved by students who overcame inadequacies, sometimes self-imposed, who go on to improve their grades. As a teenager I was one of them,” McNally recalled. “Climbing out of a hole that you dug yourself is a testament to grit.”

The teachers maintained that the proposal was addressing failure rates and not learning. The proposal is also a flawed way to engage students who come to school but do not turn in homework the teachers argued.

 Board members weigh in

After about a half hour of hearing from six teachers, the board cut off public comments — which included speakers talking about unrelated topics — when President Dan Adams announced he was not in favor of the grading changes. The proposal was a “discussion- only” item on the agenda with no action scheduled on it. But Adams straw-polled the board for its reaction.

“I think you have to earn your grade;” Adams said, “you have to earn things in life. I agree with the teachers; it sends the wrong message.”

Board member Kevin McDermott agreed.

“I think it’s a profoundly bad idea to give credit for work that’s never turned in,” he said.

“I’ve heard our principals say, ‘Oh, the grades are good, but the test scores are bad.’ Now you’re asking us to inflate the grades?” asked board member Theresa Kelly, adding that she’s “totally against this because nothing is free in life.”

Board members Francine Harrell and Teresa McKelvy also opposed the grade-change idea.

“I don’t agree because you should not get something for nothing,” Harrell said. “I worked for 31 years and now I’m retired, but I had to work.”

D209 administrator Johnson later made a presentation defending the 50 percent baseline, insisting that one “killer score” on a point-heavy assignment could torpedo a student’s chance of passing a class.

But McDermott asked if the committee’s other recommendations could be accepted without the 50-percent failing grade bump-up and Johnson acknowledged that they could.

Supt. Nettie Collins-Hart said the committee would review the board’s preferences and return with a different proposal minus the grade-boost provision.

Nearby, Morton High School District 201 in Berwyn instituted interval grading last year, much to the chagrin of a group of parents. Those parents complained at the school board meetings and started a Facebook group: “Parents Against Sinking Standards” (MortonPASS).

According to data presented to the D201 school board in February, failure rates dropped at Morton East and West high schools, yet the higher level students seemed to have less motivation. Fewer honor and AP students earned “As” after interval grading was instituted compared year over year.

And according to the MortonPASS, “A” grades received in AP biology dropped from 22.3 percent in the 2012-2013 school year to 2.2 percent the next year. AP English language and composition dropped from 14.4 percent to 7.6 percent over the same period, according the parent group.

Mona Johnson, president of Proviso Teachers Union Local #571, said the grading changes were made by administrators without any input from teachers. Division chairs who were on the curriculum committee were “bullied into going along with that,” Johnson alleged.

“Our students can manipulate this [new system] and figure it out. We are setting them up for failure,” Johnson said, adding that students who turned in work would be the ones punished. “We’re concerned for inequity. We want young people to be successful and accountable for their actions.” VFP

Email: jlotus@forestparkreview.com Twitter: FP_Review

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