Summer school students in Proviso District 209 might still complain about the teachers and their homework next year, but they will not be able to complain about un-air-conditioned classrooms, thanks to the Forest Park Village Council.
At their July 25 meeting, the four members present voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the Zoning Board of Appeals and approve an ordinance granting the school district permission to use the air-conditioned Proviso Math and Science Academy, 8601 W. Roosevelt Road, for summer school beginning in 2017. Commissioner Rachell Entler was absent.
Because use of PMSA for summer school was not allowed under terms of the original conditional use granted in 2004, the school district needed the village council to grant such usage in a separate ordinance allowing a zoning variation.
The ordinance approved July 25 allows the school district to use PMSA property for outdoor activities, which also had not been permitted since 2004.
In response to Commissioner Dan Novak’s request for clarification, Mayor Anthony Calderone said the outdoor activities would be supervised physical education classes.
School district officials applauded the vote, with Proviso board member Ned Wagner saying he was “very happy” with the decision.
“It is a great example of two governing bodies working together to do what’s best for our students,” he said. “The changing of PMSA’s zoning to allow for summer school will enable the district to utilize its air conditioning to provide a more comfortable learning environment for our students. Forest Parkers are already used to having high school activities there, so I don’t see it having a perceptible effect.”
D209 Superintendent Jesse Rodriguez also was pleased.
“This decision allows our schools to come together as one Proviso during the summer programming,” he said. “Furthermore, it provides us an opportunity to enhance our infrastructures in executing effective and efficient operations.”
The Zoning Board’s recommendation, which came at the June 20 meeting, included 10 conditions, four of which addressed security concerns.
PMSA, Proviso East High School and Proviso West High School will each provide a minimum of five security personnel during summer school and the school district will cooperate with the Forest Park Police Department as requested or required to address special concerns that arise during summer school. In addition, at least one PMSA security person will be stationed in the parking lot and at least one PMSA security person stationed at the crosswalk at First Avenue until all students have left school grounds.
Among other conditions, outdoor activities will be limited to physical education during regular school hours; the school district will submit to the village a plan detailing the area to be used for outdoor activities and the measures to be taken to ensure student safety from vehicular traffic; and the school district will implement a lottery program for parking in the west lots if the east lot is used for outdoor physical activities and will prohibit parking in the east lot.
Other conditions pertain to the grounds at PMSA, including landscaping, screening dumpsters and ongoing maintenance.
Calderone explained after the meeting that school district officials had not requested that summer school or outdoor activities be allowed at PMSA when the original request for a zoning variation was made in 2004.
“Those were their terms,” he said. “We never discussed summer school.”
Under the 2004 ordinance that allowed the school district to open PMSA, the property was rezoned from I-1, light industrial, to B-2, community shopping.
In 2007, an ordinance modified conditions to allow Triton College and “other bona-fide accredited higher learning entities” and professional businesses and their association organizations to use the facility for small business meetings, training sessions and seminars.
The 2007 ordinance also modified the outdoor use restriction to allow “a faculty member to supervise a class of students outdoors during classroom time” but specifically excluded outdoor sports, outdoor physical education and outdoor extra-curricular activities. The ordinance approved July 25 lifts that prohibition but includes the condition that such activities be limited to physical education during regular school hours.