Principal Anna Pavichevich met with whoops and a standing ovation after calling an emergency staff meeting at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday to announce, "We are no longer on probation."
As the applause died down, she explained that the change in status has been in the works for more than a year, after staff members Erik Olson and David Chinchilla discovered a discrepancy in previous attendance figures that affected the school's current performance rating.
"It's a pretty complicated story," Pavichevich said. "But CPS had a lot of integrity. They have been reviewing and analyzing one set of data since December and they could have just said, 'Look, that happened three or four years ago ... the past is the past,' but they didn't do that. They convened an entire team to review our data and actually came out with the positive fact that Erik and David were correct."
The lifting of the probationary label is not only a morale booster but has a significant impact on the way Amundsen is run.
According to CPS' Performance Policy, schools on probation are subject to central office oversight of their budget, school improvement plan and curriculum. Interventions could include principal removal or school turnaround or closing in the most extreme situations.
"When you think of the definition of the word probation, it means somehow that you're not good enough and at any minute your status can change," Pavichevich said. "It just means that your situation is tenuous."
Word that Amundsen, 5110 N. Damen Ave., is officially a school of good standing couldn't come at a better time, said the principal, who's in the midst of a recruiting push for the 2014-15 school year.
"Our biggest challenge that we've been facing has been changing community perception," said Pavichevich.
"Inside we've always known that we have great students and we've always known that we have great teachers, and I've said that since day one," she said. "Now being in good standing really validates all the hard work we're doing. This is just sort of like that final icing on the cake to say that now externally our hard work has been validated and recognized."
"It's a big deal."
It's another reason to smile for Amundsen, which enjoyed some viral attention this month with its video recreation of Pharrell William's "Happy" video — with students, staff and administrators dancing throughout the school.