A handful of priorities that, if met, would turn the Proviso Township High School District into a top performer were outlined Monday by the newly minted superintendent, Nettie Collins-Hart. Though she did not give specific strategies to meet these goals, the problem areas identified had a familiar ring.
Collins-Hart, who took the reins in District 209 in July, gave an overview of six main objectives for staff to work toward. The presentation echoed many of the same concerns highlighted in a November 2006 assessment conducted under a former superintendent, as well as subsequent internal documents calling for change within the district.
“We have some excellent things going on in the school system,” Collins-Hart said. “We also have room for growth.”
The curriculum and education programming in general must be the top priority in Proviso, said Collins-Hart. She hinted at the possibility of revisions that would give each of the three high school campuses their own theme, such as a focus on the performing arts or an international baccalaureate program. The superintendent said it is not her intention to create additional magnet schools, but to “explore” a particular emphasis for each building.
Across the district, Collins-Hart said she intends to strengthen technical education programs so that students can more easily find employment.
“Career and technical education is something that we must expand for our children,” Collins-Hart said.
The superintendent also highlighted the need for changes in the human resources department so that hiring, staff development and promotion occur in a more consistent fashion. Key positions need to be filled, she said, and the department likely needs a top to bottom audit.
Fiscal priorities included a commitment to balancing the budget and making sure that grant money is used appropriately. Collins-Hart also pointed to low morale among district employees, public relations strategies and a lack of accountability as areas to improve.
The goals outlined by the superintendent were born out of discussions earlier this summer with the school board, according to her presentation, and represent the priorities of the group. Similarly, an assessment completed almost two years ago that ranked the district at the bottom of a list of 90 area high schools contained many of the same criticisms. Student performance on standardized tests, internal communications and management practices have been woeful, according to the 2006 study.
“If we focus on the 5,000 students as the board has directed, I think we will do the right thing,” Collins-Hart said.
None of the board members commented on the superintendent’s presentation or asked follow up questions.