The Proviso District 209 Board of Education is looking ahead with the hope of holding summer school classes at the district’s math and science academy. The board recently asked the village of Forest Park for a zoning variance that would allow for summer use.

At the board’s May 10 meeting, members approved sending a request for a variance change to the village to allow Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, 8601 W. Roosevelt Road, to hold remedial classes and allow outdoor physical education and extracurricular activities.

The request is scheduled to be discussed at the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting at 7 p.m., June 20 at village hall. The board’s recommendation will then go to the village council for approval.

Proviso board member Kevin McDermott said they are looking to the future.

“It’s not for this [summer] but down the line,” said McDermott, who noted that the district already has plans to hold summer school this year at Proviso West High School in Hillside.

McDermott pointed to planned summer construction work and maintenance at Proviso East High School this year as a good example of why the board would like the option to hold summer school courses at PMSA. Last summer, classes were held at Proviso East because of construction work during the summer at West.

“The schools are old … and there is work planned,” McDermott said. “It would just give us some more options.”

In 2006, the village and Proviso ran into issues with a summer school program at PMSA. Then Police Chief James Ryan told the Forest Park Review that the police department would send 5-6 officers a day to the school to help with security during dismissal. Ryan said then that police needed to be on-hand to prevent violence and to ensure traffic safety.

“We’re used to 100 kids [at the school], but now we’re dealing with 1,000 problem kids,” Ryan said at the time.

McDermott said that issue came up before his time on the board, but acknowledged that the village was specific in the zoning of PMSA to ensure that only PMSA classes could be held there. He believes the main reason behind the zoning was the village’s desire to prevent PMSA from holding classes for students with disciplinary issues.

Forest Park Village Administrator Tim Gillian said he couldn’t recall why the village chose to restrict PMSA from holding summer school but confirmed that PMSA was zoned to allow its use for PMSA students only.

Gillian said the ZBA would consider the district’s request for a zoning variance like it would any other request. However, he said, the village was still lacking some crucial information from the district regarding their request. He expected D209 would provide the information prior to the meeting. Gillian said the board will consider the district’s request as long as they receive all the information needed.

“The village has asked us for a security plan,” McDermott said. “I expect [district administration] will get it in.”

Board Vice President Dan Adams said that however the village rules, summer school will still have a home.

“I don’t see this as a big deal,” Adams said. “It doesn’t really matter either way. If not, [students] will just go to East or West for classes.”

Adams said that if the request were denied, the district would spend next year “ironing out some of the issues.”

McDermott agreed. 

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal this year,” he said. “It’s kind of late to get started [for this summer]. But it’s something we want to look at long term.”

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