How big an impact will Forest Park have on the D209 election?

Opinion: Editorials

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By Jill Wagner

Bob Cox recently posted a chart on Facebook with data showing the total number of people in Proviso, total number of registered voters and the total number of people who voted from Proviso Township for the past three years, according to the Cook County Clerk's Office. He went on to suggest that "a formal analysis is in order" and questioned voter engagement. 

Let's start with the basics: Proviso District 209 consists of three public high schools and serves students from 10 communities. The district is basically divided into two parts — the east: Broadview, Forest Park, Maywood, Melrose Park and the west: Bellwood, Berkeley, Hillside, Northlake, Stone Park and Westchester. In total, there are roughly 70,000 registered voters, divided among these towns.

Together, these towns contribute to the Proviso Township High School educational system. There is a seven-person board of education that collectively, and ideally, governs the high school district in the best interests of students, incorporates the community's input, ensures tax dollars are being spent in the most prudent way, and are accountable to the public. Terms are four years long and the election cycle pattern splits the seats so that, every other year, three or four seats are up for election. 

Pointing out that the total number of voters in Proviso has steadily decreased in the past three elections, Cox asked, "Does every[one] feel comfortable with this anemic voting scenario? You have to ask if this is helping or hurting District 209. Is it helping the students?"

What Cox identified as "anemic," may have more to do with the election cycles within Proviso. Registered voters seem more likely to vote when there is a contested mayoral (or village presidential) election in their town. For example, about 35% of registered Forest Park voters cast ballots in the April elections of 2011 and 2015, both were contested mayoral election years, whereas only 16% voted in the non-mayoral election of 2013. Melrose Park and Stone Park had over 50% of registered voter turnout in the contested village president election of 2013, but just over 20% in the uncontested years of 2011 and 2015. 

This year there are mayoral (or presidential) races in several Proviso towns. Some are contested, some are not, and will likely influence the total ballots cast. Here is the lineup: Bellwood (mayor, unopposed), Berkeley (president, unopposed), Broadview (president, five candidates), Hillside (president, unopposed), Maywood (president, four candidates), Melrose Park (president, unopposed), Northlake (mayor, unopposed), Stone Park (president, two candidates), and Westchester (president, unopposed). This year there are four Proviso High School board seats up for election with only three incumbents running. 

Voters are more likely to vote if they feel personally connected to the outcome of the election. Whether or not Bellwood, Berkeley, Hillside, Forest Park, Melrose Park, and Westchester voters choose to vote this year — in their virtually uncontested local government elections of village, park district, township and elementary school districts — remains to be seen. 

The Proviso Township High School board election has been contested in every election for the past six years, and is again this year. We will find out on April 4 how apathetic or invested people are in the local Proviso high schools.

If Forest Parkers feel more invested than other foundation communities, they may have a bigger impact on the outcome of the election (as the accompanying charts show from past elections).

Something to think about.

— Jill Wagner is married to D209 board member Ned Wagner.

Reader Comments

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Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 13th, 2017 9:30 AM

Talk about overthinking something. The only dysfunction of the D209 board the past two years has been corruption board members beholden to the PTBs in Proviso Township. Until Proviso Together came along, the D209 board was a corrupt collection of political hacks doing the bidding of political bosses who used the Proviso High Schools as a patronage cookie jar for jobs, contracts and other looting of the public treasury. The district's academics were in the toilet and its finances required state intervention for years. After a protracted fight, good people took back the governance of D209 and are directing its resources to the education of its students, not the enrichment of a handful of powerful politicians and their cronies. That requires no statistical analysis.

Brian Kuhr from Forest Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2017 9:23 AM

Thanks, Jill, for your reminder on the importance of Forest Park turnout in the upcoming Proviso school board election!

Robert C. Cox from Forest Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2017 4:39 PM

Senior Moment... Jill Wagner not Janet

Robert C. Cox from Forest Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2017 4:37 PM

So this is the direction I've been following. Statistical analysis requires a process of filtering assumptions, theory and data. If done correctly there will a hypothesis and an out come . Contrary to popular beliefs there will not be 50 different results because statistics are mathematical. REGARDING statistical analysis of District 209 BOE elections 1999 -2015. Thanks to my friend and colleague Dr. Randy Smith who shared at our meeting at Franklin College in February 2017. AN INTERESTING fact is that prior to 1999 campaign funding could be used however the candidate wished. If I were doing additional study I would add that inquiry to my data and display graph . Two constraints I have in interpreting the data are $ to fund a study and the fact that I am not a political scientist Some additional ideas for data included : Possible Conclusion: Good schools require good leadership P1 = Iowa Lighthouse Study on School boards ?" brief detail of what they did P2 = They give measures of dysfunctional boards: - Lack of balance budget (they measure it by looking at ?.) - Micromanagement (they measure it by looking at ?) - Polarization (they measure it by looking at ?) P3 = Now let's see how Proviso does along theses measures - Balanced budget? - Micromanagement? - Polarization? P4 = Proviso currently fits the model for a dysfunctional board P5 = What to do about it ?. - How to work toward a balanced budget - How to not micromanage - How to avoid polarization?. P6 = Optimism... In short get out the vote in all the Proviso foundation communities. thanks Janet Wagner for your FP analysis.

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