At a special joint meeting between the Proviso Township High School District 209 Board of Education and the Financial Oversight Panel Aug.12, Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart indicated that her administrative team has ramped up the process of gradually moving beyond the FOP. 

In May, the board announced that it had begun the transition to remove the state-appointed panel’s oversight by the summer of 2016. At the time of the announcement, Dr. Craig Schilling, the FOP’s chairman, said that progress had been made over the last year and that an exit strategy was appropriate.

“The relationship between the FOP and the Proviso Board [has improved],” Schilling said at the time. “The financial plan is as good as it’s ever been [and] more data is coming from departments.”

The exit timeline that the FOP proposed would have the panel’s oversight end by June 14, 2016, just as a tentative budget will have been approved by the Board. Schilling said that until that exit date, the FOP would be evaluating how well the district independently meets benchmarks in the areas of financial stability, administrative leadership, board leadership, teaching and learning, and human resources.

Since the FOP began its supervision in 2008, the District has gone from a budget deficit of about $15 million in 2007 to balanced budgets the last five years. Since 2010, it has achieved “financial recognition,” the state’s highest category of financial distinction. 

At the Aug. 12 meeting, Superintendent Collins-Hart said her administrative team has begun the process of incorporating the transition plan into the district’s own strategic goals. 

“We have the major goals and administrators are assigned those goals, resources are allocated and a timeline is placed to those goals,” she said, noting that her staff has been working with the Center for School Improvement throughout the process.

The Center for School Improvement was established by the State Board of Education “to lead the delivery of high-quality, research based statewide system of support services designed to raise student performance by increasing district-level capacity for exceptional teaching and learning,” according to the organization’s website. 

District 209 is one among about 26 school districts across the state receiving ‘priority services’ from the CSI for teacher evaluations, balanced assessment and continuous improvement planning, among other things. At each priority high school, CSI officials randomly select to visit classrooms that cover core subjects such as mathematics, social studies and language arts “to create as objective a snapshot as possible of instruction,” according to a CSI FAQ sheet.

In addition, CSI site visitors conduct teacher interviews, and at least three and up to 10 interviews with key district staff members, such as the superintendent, the director of curriculum and instruction, and the director of secondary education. Priority districts are expected to pay for part of this data collection process by providing substitute teachers to stand in for teachers who are being interviewed, refreshments and meeting space. According to the FAQ, Priority districts “can use up to 20 percent of Title I funds for transportation, substitutes, and meeting provisions for district-improvement-related efforts.”

At the Aug. 12 meeting Superintendent Collins-Hart said that her staff had recently worked on the transition plan at its administrative retreat and would be continuing its work with CSI to improve the plan. 

“We’ll be sure to follow the [FOP’s] timeline,” she said. “We didn’t necessarily get any feedback that found these to be things we couldn’t accomplish or shouldn’t accomplish.”

Schilling only suggested that the FOP be updated each month on the district’s progress with the transition.

Boy’s basketball coach tabled

The Proviso School board tabled the appointment of Anthony Longstreet as Proviso West Head Basketball coach. Longstreet coached Crane High School in the Chicago Public Leagues for 13 years until 2008. According to press reports, he was coaching at Manley High School since 2012. 

It was unclear whether Proviso West would have a head coach for boys basketball when school begins.

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