With only a handful of parents in the audience, Proviso Township High School District 209 presented their third high school town hall at Proviso Math and Science Academy Monday night. And unlike town hall meetings at Proviso East and West High Schools earlier in the month, those parents weren’t disgruntled.

Principal Kim Echols told parents about a campaign to engage students to better prepare for the ACT and Work Keys Prairie State Exam in the spring and a grant to begin AP classes in the high school. She also mentioned a dual-credit program with Triton College that may allow students to simultaneously earn up to 24 hours of both high school and Triton college credit for free.

Test scores for PMSA improved last year, Echols said, rising from a 2011 cumulative 72 percent meet-and-exceed Illinois state standards to 75 percent in spring 2012.

Forest Park PMSA Parent Sean Blaylock, who also serves on the Forest Park Elementary School District 91 School Board, asked what measurable goals the school had to reach a higher percentage, “such as 80 percent,” to which Echols replied, “I can answer that, we have goals: to reach 100 percent of students meeting or exceeding the Illinois standards.”

Echols said along with Saturday ACT prep classes taught by Cambridge the district offered additional test-prep classes.

“Our kids are being motivated,” Echols said.

Echols also said that the school received a $49,800 grant to begin an Advanced Placement program in the school. She emphasized that all classes at the school were honors classes but the grant would permit an AP program to begin. “We’ll probably start with English,” she said.

Echols herself will be moving on from her post as principal to District-wide Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Instruction next year. Parents also heard about a fledgling dual credit program with Triton College. This year, the school has coordinated a single class, Nature of Knowledge, with Triton so that students can receive community college credit and high school credit simultaneously, Math and Science Department Chair John Wardiasani said. But Wardiasani said he was hoping next year 15 percent of PMSA students could qualify for dual credit classes in biology, human anatomy and engineering and design, for up to 24 credit hours.

District 209 Board member Brian Cross congratulated the school on the dual credit program saying, “That’s a student walking into law school or medical school a year early, or starting in the workforce a year early.”

Board members thanked the few parents who showed up and expressed frustration that the room was so empty.

“We need your feedback and we need you to come out and get involved,” said Board Member Kevin McDermott.

Board members heard complaints Feb. 4 and Feb. 11 at Proviso West and East High School town halls about the Feb. 4-5 school day fights at Proviso West after which 18 students were arrested and suspended and gang activity was suspected.

But PMSA parents appeared satisfied.

Board Member Readith Ester noted, “It’s depressing to see such a low turnout.” She said having parents engaged with their children’s teachers was “the best way to be proactive and create a partnership with teachers, parents and administrators.”

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...