Proviso hires Chicago firm to up parent engagement. | File photo

Proviso Township High School District 209 officials are getting more ambitious in their efforts to increase parent and community engagement. Before the 2017-18 school year, the district hired Youth Guidance, a Chicago-based organization that helps schools build their community outreach capacities. 

The organization provided a community schools coordinator who assisted the parent coordinators at Proviso East and Proviso West in various parent and community outreach activities and helped facilitate parent workshops that were available to English and Spanish-speaking parents. 

District officials said that, on average, 10 parents attended those workshops in 2017-18. For the 2018-19 school year, officials want to double average workshop attendance to 20 parents. They also want to offer parent leadership development training and to expand partnerships with outside community agencies. 

During a regular meeting on July 10, the school board voted 6-0 to extend its contract with Youth Guidance. The contract is not to exceed $66,327. Board member Theresa Kelly was not present for the vote. The district will pay for Youth Guidance’s services with grant funds. 

The contract with Youth Guidance is part of the community schools component of the district’s family and community engagement strategic initiative, which is designed to “measurably improve parent and community engagement with the schools, in the interest of improving student achievement,” according to a memo drafted by district officials. 

The community schools coordinator will collaborate with D209’s director of student and family services and parent coordinators at East and West to develop a calendar of community schools activities for the 2018-19 school year, an official stated. 

Those activities could include parent workshops and leadership training opportunities, with a special focus placed on “improving outreach and marketing of the community schools activities.” Youth Guidance will also help the district administer a survey designed to gauge how parents perceived, and how much they were engaged with, the programming.