As part of a series of community forums being held within the high school district’s sending communities, Superintendent Stan Fields will be in Forest Park next week gathering feedback on the successes and failures of District 209.
The informal meeting on Jan. 9 is a chance for the public to speak directly with Proviso Township’s new superintendent, and according to Fields, participants will not be subjected to a sales pitch.
“Given the district’s abysmal performance the last few years, there’s nothing to sell,” Fields said.
Instead, the public is invited to ask questions of the high school system’s lead administrator and offer its expectations of District 209. During a November board of education meeting Fields said the next step after taking stock of the district is setting goals. At that meeting, board members were briefed on the results of a quality assessment in which an independent firm pointed to poor student performance, political in-fighting, financial mismanagement and weak leadership as areas to address.
The forum next Tuesday follows roughly a handful of dates in other communities that send students to one of three high schools in District 209. In addition to being a feeder, Forest Park also hosts the administrative offices and the Proviso Math and Science Academy, which is now in its second year of operation.
“It’s reasonable to expect a good turnout,” Fields said of the meeting in Forest Park. “If you consider what people in Forest Park pay in taxes to District 209, I’d have a real interest in what the district is doing with that money.”
Forest Park is one of 10 communities that pay taxes to District 209.
“I’m looking to quantify the community’s expectations of the school district,” Fields said.
Previous meetings have not been well attended and Director of Communications Angela McDaniel said it’s likely that people have simply lost interest in the embattled district. Though Fields said he’s not out to deliver a slick ad campaign, McDaniel said there’s no doubt that it’s up to administrators to convince residents that District 209 has something to offer.
“You need to get people on board and believing again,” McDaniel said. “Our students can learn at our schools.”
The Jan. 9 meeting will be held in village hall on Desplaines Avenue at 6 p.m.