The year ahead must be a telling one for District 209 Proviso High Schools. The district is finally out from under the yoke of Chris Welch as board president. There is a critical election next month to choose new more student focused board members. The state appointed Financial Oversight Panel (FOP) is adjusting to its new and more expansive power within the troubled district. A new batch of school principals is now, for better or worse, in place. And last week, in what appeared to be a compromise, the FOP offered veteran Supt. Nettie Collins-Hart a one-year contract extension.

We’re not looking for miracles. Turning this failed school district toward the light is going to take time. But we are looking for the new school board to cut any puppet-master strings that Welch seeks to pull from his new perch in Springfield. We are looking for this board and the FOP to find a productive path to co-existing so that the energy goes to education not infighting. And we are looking for Collins-Hart to assert herself as the essential leader of this district.