SUBSTANTIAL AGREEMENT: A chart showing the number of attendees at an October facilities meeting who agreed with the overall capital plans at each of the three campuses in District 209.

During a Nov. 13 joint meeting between the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 Board of Education and the district’s Financial Oversight Panel, building managers at all three D209 campuses reported on the community feedback received from a public meeting on facilities held Oct. 23 at Proviso Math and Science Academy, 8601 Roosevelt Road in Forest Park.

Around 250 people attended last month’s meeting, said D209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez on Nov. 13. Based on a poll administered at the meeting, most of those attendees were satisfied with the projects that are being proposed as part of the district’s facilities master plan.

During the October meeting, attendees were split into three different groups and updated about facilities needs and ideas at Proviso Math and Science Academy, Proviso East and Proviso West.

They were then asked to rate a range of proposed capital projects at each school, from “have concerns,” to “slightly agree” to “totally agree.” Attendees rated the projects both individually and as they all came together to form a comprehensive, long-term capital plan for each campus in the district.

According to the results presented by the building managers, 69 percent, 77 percent and 84 percent of those people surveyed about long-term capital plans at the three schools respectively, “totally agreed” with them as a whole.

“It seems like there’s a lot of understanding that a lot of hard work went into this, and community members do feel that all of this work needs to be done,” said L.T. Taylor, the building manager at East. 

One hundred percent of respondents said they “totally agree” that the electrical system at East should be improved while 86 percent totally agreed that air-conditioning improvements and lighting upgrades should be top priorities.

Renovating the Career Technical Education instruction spaces at East garnered the most support of all the proposed instruction-related projects, with 90 percent of respondents indicating they totally agree with those improvements, which include upgrading spaces for advanced auto manufacturing, welding, plumbing and other CTE fields.

Attendees were also asked what excites them about the facilities master plan. Related to East, many respondents said they were most enthused about restroom upgrades.

“A lot of these restroom upgrades at Proviso East that we need pertain to the field house and tie into the health and life-safety report,” said Taylor.

Among those respondents who answered surveys about West, 100 percent said they totally agreed that renovating the school’s restrooms, parking lot and athletic fields should be a top priority while 92 percent said officials should focus on classroom air-conditioning upgrades.

As with East, Career Technical Education upgrades were the most popular instruction-related projects. Ninety-four percent of respondents who answered surveys about West said they totally agree that district officials should make upgrades in CTE instruction a top priority.

At PMSA, 100 percent of respondents totally agreed that officials should prioritize the school’s first-floor cafeteria space while 92 percent and 93 percent said they totally agreed with officials addressing classroom sizes on the third and fourth floors, respectively.

Attendees also weighed in on their concerns with, and suggestions related to, the facilities master plan.

Many people, regardless of which campus they were most concerned about, were worried that the plan would not be implemented in a timely manner and what impact it would have on taxpayers.

“People were concerned that the plan would not get implemented [in 7-10 years],” said Ronald Anderson, the building manager for PMSA. “But we’re going to show them that it will.”

Angela Calcagno, the building manager at West, said residents were also concerned about complications that might arise during the construction process.

“Another concern they had was … how would we keep the building envelope sealed, where we don’t have rodents coming in,” Calcagno said. “Some of this [construction] will be happening in the school year and obviously there will be openings and penetrations to the building.”

During the Nov. 13 meeting, Rodriguez said architects from Perkins and Will, the architectural firm hired last year to help draft the plan, will work alongside the facilities master plan steering committee on finalizing the plan’s scope and funding details. A draft plan is scheduled to be presented to the school board in December.

“Hopefully, by January, we’ll have something very concrete,” Rodriguez said, adding that the board needs to have a 5-year financial plan and staffing projections related to the facilities plan by March.