Taft LSC gives update on PSAT results
by BRIAN NADIG
The Taft High School Local School Council at its Dec. 4 meeting received updates on PSAT results, the new athletic field and the marching band’s trip to the Sugar Bowl.
It was reported that 58 percent of ninth graders at the school scored high enough in reading and writing on the Preliminary SAT exam to be considered on track for college readiness, compared to the state average of 48 percent and the Chicago Public Schools average of 38 percent.
In math, 45 percent of Taft’s ninth graders met the on-track benchmark compared to 35 percent for the state and 30 percent for CPS. The LSC requested that information be provided on how Taft compared to nearby suburban high schools at a future meeting.
In addition, Taft’s resident principal Dan Kuzma said that after the first 10 weeks of school this semester, Taft’s freshman graduation on-track rate is 94.5 percent, up from 89 percent a year ago. An increase in the on-track rate is expected to help Taft move from a Level 1 performing school to Level 1+, the highest rating awarded by the school district.
Taft also is planning to increase participation by juniors in the Khan Academy SAT preparation program. Studies have shown that those who complete 20 hours of work in the program typically experience a 100-point increase in their SAT score, Taft assistant principal Ryan Glowacz said.
Meanwhile, Taft principal Mark Grishaber said that completion of the new multi-purpose athletic field has been delayed until the spring so that the turf can be installed during warmer weather.
The project also will include spectator stands for 1,200 people, a press box, a public address system and a drinking fountain, and the school expects to use portable washrooms when needed for larger events.
Grishaber said that lights were dropped from the plan due to budgetary concerns, but he hopes that lights can eventually be installed because it would be difficult to use the field later than 4:30 p.m. in the fall. The school also is looking to raise funds to pay for a portion of the cost of the stands.
The bleachers will be located behind a north-south alley which runs behind homes on Nagle Avenue, and their height will be approximately "to the top of the garages" to prevent spectators looking into the nearby homes, Grishaber said. Some residents have expressed concern about the noise and parking congestion which could stem from large crowds so close to their homes.
"This is basically set up to be a practice field and (for freshman and junior varsity games)," Grishaber said.
Taft’s varsity football home games are expected to be played at the new athletic facility which the Chicago Park District is building next to Taft’s freshman academy, which will open in September at 4071 N. Oak Park Ave., Grishaber said.
The park district facility, where Saint Patrick High School also plans to play its home games, will be able to accommodate an estimated 2,500 spectators, Grishaber said. The parochial high school is an investor in the facility.
The turf project at Taft’s main campus does require the issuance of yard variations from the city Zoning Board of Appeals.
Under the proposal, the setback from the residential property line to the east would be 11.33 feet instead of the required 50 feet. There also would be a 20-foot-tall fence to the south to block balls from going onto Bryn Mawr Avenue.
Alderman Anthony Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio said in an interview that the alderman plans to meet with the residents living near the school prior to the board’s hearing, which is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Jan. 18. He said that an impact study on the project has been completed and may address some of the residents’ concerns.
It also was reported that it would cost about $1,300 per marching band member for the band’s trip to the Sugar Bowl. The LSC recently approved a motion to allocate up to $10,000 from the school’s internal accounts to cover $250 of the expense for each band member.
The band has been holding numerous fund-raisers for the trip, and a newly formed booster club will provide the difference for those students who need assistance. Students will be expected to pay the money back to the booster club.
It also was announced that last month the varsity football team won its first city championship in 46 years.