A breakdown of incoming freshmen at D209's math and science academies by feeder district, based on data provided by D209 officials. | Data by District 209

Last year, the Proviso Township High School District 209 Board of Education voted unanimously to develop selective enrollment academies similar to Proviso Math and Science Academy at both Proviso East and Proviso West.

The move essentially replicated PMSA’s academically rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at the two larger campuses. The IB Programme allows high school students the opportunity to earn college credits at universities all over the world.

The application and registration process for all three academies started last fall and ended in January. During a regular meeting on Feb. 11, Bessie Karvelas, D209’s chief innovation officer, presented board members with enrollment data related to all the academies and updated them on the plan’s progress.

“We’ve gotten off the ground and we are ready to go,” she said.

As of Feb. 11, she said, 100 students each were invited to attend the Proviso West Math and Science Academy and the Proviso East Math and Science Academy while 253 students were invited to attend PMSA.

Seventy-five students accepted the invitation to attend the West academy while 75 students accepted the invitation to attend the East academy. She said that the acceptance process was still in progress as of Feb. 11. A maximum of 400 students will be accepted across the three academies, she said.

Students were given a first and second option, Karvelas said, adding that 18 students within D209 chose to attend their home school. 

Karvelas also broke down enrollment data by feeder school. The analysis showed that most students poised to attend the three selective enrollment academies come from Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview District 89 (174), followed by Berkeley District 87 (78), Bellwood District 88 (62), Westchester District 92.5 (56) and Forest Park District 91 (17). 

“The cutoff score for each Academy selection process is derived from the applicant pool and is not generated before the selection process. Applications who present the strongest combination of credentials and have the highest application score are invited to attend the Academy of their choice,” she said, explaining the selection process.

During the Feb. 11 meeting, Supt. Jesse Rodriguez said that the enrollment data disproved the beliefs of some skeptics who didn’t think that students would want to attend selective academies if they were at East or West.

“Believe in your people, because these are the results you’re going to get,” he said. “I believe firmly that excellence starts with us.”

Karvelas said that with the creation of the two additional academies at East and West, the district “more than doubled opportunities for families to be part of the selective enrollment academies.”

She said that each academy will have five teachers while the two academies will share one counselor, one program director and one IB coordinator. The latter had already been hired as of Feb. 11, Karvelas said.

She said that the district was in the process of planning a parent meeting for parents and students to understand the programs and curricula, tour the classrooms and discuss coursework, among other things.

“It was a herculean task, but we’ve gotten pretty far in a short time,” Karvelas said of the academies.

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com