The huge turnout at the May meeting of the Proviso high school board is sure to have community members buzzing for a few days. It was easily the largest crowd the board has seen in years. They called on administrators and board members to avoid a series of potentially crippling budget cuts in a district that already offers too little in the way of meaningful education.

It was a good first step.

Parents and students still have several months to voice concerns; the board isn’t expected to vote on a budget until August. Influencing that budget would be another step in the right direction for the Proviso community. Do you see yet where we’re going with this? Change in District 209 is going to require steady, sustained pressure from taxpayers, students, parents and anyone else who can lend a voice. For far too long, school boards in this district have spent themselves into oblivion. Blame for the difficult choices that have to be made today – and likely for the next several years – can be placed squarely on the dais.

In a page 1 story this week, the Review highlighted the plight of a Westchester mom struggling with whether to stay and fight for her daughter’s education or sell the house and find a functional school district. After addressing the board, she told us that she doubts the impact her one voice would have. The exasperated sigh is one with which we can sympathize, but the community’s generally fatalistic view of its public high schools must be traded for more of what was on display at the May 18 board meeting.

Case in point: For several months, this small newspaper has reported and editorialized on the use of taxpayer money to pay legal fees on behalf of the school board president. The chart below illustrates quite well how this money should have been spent. We’ve published it on several occasions. Today, those bills are not being paid by the district because a small group of taxpayers read our coverage and filed a lawsuit in an effort to regain control of their money.

This particular expense is only the latest example of misspending in District 209 and, frankly, amounts to a drop in the bucket. But the point here is that vigilance and indignation can – and must – yield results. To borrow the words of a Westchester mom, “there’s too much at stake.”