We’ll take normal, please. 

In all of our years covering the Proviso Township high schools we’ve reported on some screwy and disconcerting things. Superintendents and principals are hired, fired, rehired, promoted, demoted. Relatives turn up on the payroll. Vendors are favored for lucrative contracts. And, as we report this week, the district’s law firm is a top donor to the insider slate of candidates which remarkably got clobbered by voters in this month’s election.

This school district intentionally detours around standard protocols to get to the outcome desired by adults looking out for themselves rather than students. That’s the history. That’s the worry going forward. Can a newly elected board majority insist that processes be put in place and then followed so that there is a transparent path to student-centered choices?

Which brings us to the convoluted plan to update and rebuild the football stadium at Proviso East. We’ve read our own reporting and we’re not sure what we are looking at here. 

The football facility is substandard. We get that. Needs improvement. We get that. But beyond that, it appears the football coach, David Odom, has been freelancing in trying to find funding for a new synthetic turf field, a weight room, locker rooms, a scoreboard, a shift in the placement of bleachers. 

He’s seemingly found corporate sponsors willing to invest money into the project but not through the school district or a respected third party which would hold the money and oversee construction. Part of the deal is a provision to name the facility for the coach and his wife. 

We get that with its dodgy history, investors might balk at handing money over to the district. Still, the answer to the troubled past isn’t to devise new and equally tortured routes to accomplishing even something as positive as an improved football facility. 

The new board needs to step back, assess the needs of the football program and where it fits on the priority list. Only then can it harness the seeming enthusiasm of football backers to make a plan that is positive and transparent.


The next chief

Jim Ryan, Forest Park’s police chief for the past decade, is set to take his retirement in mid-May. We thank him for his service. By broad measure Ryan has stabilized a department that was in extended turmoil on his arrival. He replaced a short-term chief who had been hired to clean up a shaky department and wound up mired in the same glue.

There are things to admire about the police department at this point and there are worries that will outlast Ryan’s tenure. We will look more closely at the challenges another week. 

For now we’d offer our support for the plan by Mayor Anthony Calderone to promote Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas to the top post. Calderone intends to make that suggestion to the incoming village council. We believe Aftanas to be a calm, approachable leader who can continue the department’s improvement.

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