It isn’t over yet, but plans to expand the elementary school district’s junior kindergarten program in Forest Park will likely be shelved in the coming weeks thanks to a disappointing showing at an early registration event. Certainly, the public’s interest in enrolling children not yet old enough for District 91’s full-day kindergarten program could blossom between now and August, and that would be great. But given the recent efforts to promote the program, the superintendent was disheartened to find himself back at square one.

There are about 112 kids enrolled in the district’s full-day kindergarten program, which the schools refer to as senior kindergarten. Forest Park also runs a half-day program for kids under the age of 5. This is the junior kindergarten program and the one educators were hoping to build on. While we fully support such an expansion and commend the district for trying to strengthen this program in particular, perhaps administrators were a bit ambitious in their initial projection.

The current junior kindergarten program has a maximum enrollment of 40 students. There are 30 kids in this year’s class. School board members approved spending up to $128,000 on the expansion, hoping to boost junior kindergarten enrollment to as many as 120 students. The addition of 90 new students would have been a remarkable achievement.

Superintendent Lou Cavallo and the school board’s Vice President Sean Blaylock have both put into words a sentiment that is evidenced by the district’s actions – that their primary focus is to improve public education in Forest Park.

The interest isn’t yet there to warrant hiring additional teachers for junior kindergarten. But whether educators decide to keep working to expand the program for the fall or to take another crack at it for the 2009-10 school year, the aim is certainly worth the while.

Just give us the truth

It was apparent to this newspaper several weeks ago that something needed to change with respect to how elected officials in Forest Park are updated on the village’s finances. The wildly clashing views of the finance director and the village administrator only work to confuse the public, especially when they can’t agree on whether the books will be swimming in red ink at the end of the fiscal year on April 30.

Some sort of change is in fact being implemented, and on April 28 the village council should receive its first financial report under whatever new method is devised. Hopefully the information provided then, and in the future, is clear and easily understood by the council members and the taxpaying public.

With any change, it may take a little time to work out the kinks and find the best approach. Our advice would be to avoid the glossy, contrived style of report that was given at the April 14 meeting by the commissioner of accounts and finance. Provide hard numbers to illustrate the basic points and be forthright. If there’s going to be a deficit, acknowledge it. If there’s a surplus, tell us. This is the public’s money and an accurate accounting is deserved.