Saturday, July 14, 2012


The Subject Statements made on the Proviso Insider on July 12, 2007, July 19, 2007, August 27, 2007, and December 15, 2007 regarding Burton S. Odelson, Mark H. Sterk and Odelson & Sterk, Ltd. are hereby unconditionally and unequivocally retracted and the Proviso Insider regrets the publication of those statements on the blog which were made without factual basis.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Bus Program Is A Tremendous Success at Proviso High Schools...

Forest Park, IL...Proviso Township High Schools are riding high as officials report the positive impact of PTHS 209’s transportation program.

Since the District began its free busing services it has had a significant impact on average daily attendance. In August 2008 the district began to offer free transportation for Proviso East and Proviso West to address truancy rates, improve average daily attendance (ADA), and improve overall student achievement. It was also designed to offer vital support to students and parents. Data collection and analysis shows that the program has done just that, and many students agree.

“The bus has definitely helped me,” said Proviso West junior Noemi Hernandez of Berkley. “I don’t have to walk to school. I get to school on time. I don’t have to pay to ride to school; and when it’s cold, my parents don’t have to pick me up.”

There are similar sentiments at Proviso East.

“The bus helps me and my family so much,” said Proviso East senior Melissa Borjas of Melrose Park. “It helps us save money because now I don’t have to pay for public transportation and it helps me get to school on time. I was having problems getting to school on time. I had to walk over five blocks just to catch the PACE bus to school. Now I just walk right out to the corner and wait for the bus. I’m never late.”

Since the transportation program was implemented, there have been dramatic decrease in the number of chronic late arrivals, while more moderate improvements have been achieved in monthly ADA percentages. In August 2008 prior to implementation of the transportation program, ADA was at 87% in January 2009 the rate was 94 %. Overall, because students are experiencing more time in class, student achievement is expected to improve. At both Proviso East and Proviso West the data shows that the percentage of grades issued in the range of A-C increased, while the percentage of grades from D-F decreased.

“While there are many factors that have contributed to the positive change in school climate, and an improvement in student achievement, there is no doubt that the transportation program has made a significant difference.” said PTHS 209 Superintendent Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart. “I am very proud of how receptive out students and parents have been.”

In April, the PTHS 209 Board of Education received a full report on the impact of PTHS 209’s transportation program. The information was more welcomed news for the Board of Education who, in the past few years, has approved a wave of initiatives that focus on school improvement.

“We, on the Board of Education, are so pleased that this program has accomplished exactly what we hoped it would,” said PTHS 209 Board Member Robin Foreman. “Our students are getting to school safely and on time. They’re spending more time in class and we are seeing improvements all around. Everything that we do is about supporting our students and our communities. This program is one of many that we’ve implemented over the years and we are just delighted to see that it is having such a positive impact.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Proviso High Schools Removed From Financial Watch List!!!

Proviso Township High Schools is poised to celebrate. After two years, the school system has officially been removed from the Illinois State Board of Education’s financial watch list.

“With the hard work of the Proviso Township High School Board of Education, the administrators, and the voluntary financial oversight panel, the district has greatly improved its finances and is no longer on financial watch,” said Illinois State Board of Education Division Administrator Debbie Vespa. “They have been working very hard—I know.”

PTHS 209 Superintendent Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart echoed that sentiment and commended her administration for a job well done.

Each year, the state board analyzes school districts' finances and designates them as financially sound, under review, under warning or--in the worst case--on a financial watch list. After implementing an intense deficit reduction plan and working with Proviso stakeholders to better manage finances and reduce deficit spending, PTHS has moved from financial watch to the second highest category.

This feat is especially remarkable considering the financial crisis many schools are facing in the state of Illinois. This month, the Illinois State Board of Education released its annual report on the financial health of school districts. As expected, in the current economy, the picture is grim with few exceptions. However, Proviso Township High Schools has been on a steady school improvement track. Finances have been one of the district’s top priorities. While most school districts have standing deficits of tens of millions of dollars, Proviso’s operating deficit for FY09 was under $1 million. This is a victory that PTHS 209 attributes to the hard work of administration, the Board of Education, and the cooperation of PTHS stakeholders.

“We are extremely happy and proud that our hard work and collaborations are moving our school district forward,” said Dr. Nikita Johnson, PTHS 209 Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations. “That is what it’s all about. Our focus has been on our students. We have had to constantly analyze how we can best serve them; how we can continue to improve our academic programming while also improving and monitoring our finances.”

PTHS 209 Board President Chris Welch said, “This took strong leadership from our Board of Education, and it also took collaboration from all of our stakeholders. So, this is a cause for celebration. Most importantly, it is a strong indicator that we are on the right track in all aspects of our school improvement initiatives. This accomplishment gives us momentum to keep moving forward and to keep getting better.”

Johnson said, PTHS 209 administrators and the Board of Education will continue to work together in order to maintain the fiscal health of Proviso Township High Schools. Administrators remain cautious yet optimistic as a fiscal crisis and funding adjustments at the state level will require school districts statewide to continue to closely monitor finances and spending through 2011.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Former Maywood Mayor Ralph Conner Dies

According to the Proviso Herald, Former Maywood Mayor Ralph W. Conner has died.

Conner was born in Maywood and was involved in activities concerning black student support for Fred Hampton.

In the late 1970s Conner worked for the village of Maywood as a commercial loan specialist and served as the economic development director, the enterprise zoning administrator and the director of planning and development. He also served as building commissioner and on the staff for the Zoning and Planning Board of Appeals.

Conner ran for mayor in April 2001. Conner served as village president until April 2005.

He also ran for Proviso Township assessor and Cook County assessor.

Conner was hired as public affairs director in April 2005 by the Heartland Institute.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Charles Flowers Arrested For Theft...Faces Additional Charges!!!

According to published reports in the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown and Chicago Tribune, Charles Flowers, the embattled superintendent of the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education, surrendered to authorities today at the Cook County courthouse in Maywood on public corruption charges.

State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has scheduled a press conference for 3:30 p.m. and is expected to announce criminal charges against Flowers for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the bankrupt agency.
Flowers and the agency are already fighting a civil suit brought in July by the state's attorney's office for failing to repay a $190,000 loan from the county. The suit alleges Flowers defrauded the county because he knew the agency could never be repaid due to its shattered finances.

The charges are the result of a separate criminal probe into allegations that he used agency funds for his own personal gain. Last year, a state audit found that the agency--which handles teacher certification and inspections for suburban schools--was $1 million in debt and accused Flowers of using a work credit card for personal use as well as giving a $6,000 advance to a relative he hired to work for him.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Proviso East Security Official Struck and Killed By Car...

The death of the 57-year-old man who was killed Friday night when he was struck by a vehicle in Maywood has been ruled an accident.

A Saturday autopsy by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office said George Smith, 57, of 929 W. 19th Ave. in Bellwood, died of multiple injuries in an auto vs. pedestrian accident. The accident happened at 1st Avenue and School Street in Maywood, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

The victim, George Smith, 57, of 929 W. 19th Ave. in Bellwood, was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where he was pronounced dead at 8:47 p.m. Smith was employeed at Proviso East High School as a school security official.

Maywood police were not immediately available Saturday night. School officials are preparing to have grief counselors available for students on Monday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is Charles Flowers' Office Closed For Good?

According to the Daily Southtown, Charles Flowers might just be the last regional superintendent in suburban Cook County.

Legislation in the works calls for abolishing the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education, as members of a committee backing the measure continue to toil away at a plan to efficiently distribute the responsibilities if the office disappears.

"We need to redesign the system," said Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines), who introduced the bill to dissolve the office. "The real problem is the schools are not getting the services they need. I think eliminating that office is the best way to get those services."

Forest Ridge School District 142 Supt. Margaret Longo is leading a committee of academic, legal and financial minds proposing to disperse the regional office's current responsibilities to the three Intermediate Service Centers.

Suburban Cook's regional office - plagued by a lack of funding and being the largest in the state, with more than 140 school districts and 25,000 educators - is the only county in Illinois with the intermediate centers, which are charged with a number of duties other regional offices complete on their own.

The plan would be to work within the regional office's $1.5 million budget, increase assistance and bring the services closer to the teachers, Longo said.

"We understand the fiscal climate of our state," Longo said. "We just want a more effective use of our monies and time."

In effect, a number of districts that have run into roadblock after roadblock with Flowers' office have been operating without the regional office.

"It's been close to a year that I've even had to call them," said Atwood Heights School District 125 Supt. Tom Livingston, who, like many area superintendents, has directed his staff to neighboring regional offices and intermediate offices. "The call-back time, especially when I'd have an emergency like a student who may be considered homeless, was a problem."

It wouldn't be the first time the Legislature voted to do away with a regional office with a reputation of nepotism, bureaucracy and reckless spending. In 1991, lawmakers abolished the Cook County regional office of education, only to establish the suburban Cook County office, thanks in part to some heavy politicking.

With growing concerns regarding current Regional Supt. Flowers - who is the target of a criminal probe by the Cook County state's attorney's office for alleged financial and ethical misconduct - the calls to do away with the office once and for all are now louder than ever.

Flowers did not return calls for comment.

"It's just a shame that someone's lack of leadership and ineptness can cause a whole office to collapse, but if it will better serve the teachers, it has to be done," said Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman (R-Orland Park).

Both Nekritz and Longo emphasize the legislation, which is expected to come up for a vote in the spring session, targets only suburban Cook's regional office, not any of the other 44 statewide. No one even filed for the 2010 race for Flowers' spot, a spokeswoman for Cook County Clerk David Orr said.

A number of Southland districts rely on the intermediate center in Chicago Heights, and they can lean even harder if the legislation goes through, executive director Vanessa Kinder said.

"I think it's a very good, sound plan," said Kinder, who serves on the committee. "We already have a great reputation in our districts, and we're in their back yards."


In a rush to avoid almost certain eviction for failure to pay more than $10,000 in back rent, regional schools chief Charles Flowers packed up the regional office of education and moved into a Broadview office building.

Seven working days later, Broadview officials closed it for not having the proper paperwork - namely an occupancy permit.

That was Nov. 10. As of Thursday afternoon, almost a month later, the office remained closed.

Not that anyone calling the regional office's general number would know. The voicemail message makes no mention of it. Only a message on the Web site reads "closed until further notice."

Numerous calls to the village of Broadview's building department were not returned.