Tag: Teresa McKelvy

D209 board votes to streamline architect hiring process

ProvisoEast

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 

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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

Google tech summit.png

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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