You could argue, and we have, that the cash reserves carried by Forest Park’s District 91 elementary schools run too high. But that was before governance in Illinois went fully into the crapper and the state’s leaders chose to operate month after month without a budget.
The malfeasance in Springfield will leave public schools across the state with limited options when it comes time to open schools this fall. But with its reserves in place, D91 told parents earlier this month that local schools will open on time and with full staff on hand.
It also helps, perversely, that just 8 percent of the district’s revenue comes via the state government. So much for the Illinois constitution which mandates that the state contribute a majority of funding to operate public schools in Illinois.
It is simply preposterous that alleged leaders — and we’re looking at Rauner and Madigan equally — could allow this situation to continue, letting the consequences to escalate. Social service agencies across the state have already been eviscerated. And come fall you can add public education from pre-K to university level.
Credit to the board and the administration of D91 for positioning our district to continue to function during these absurd times. But as Supt. Louis Cavallo said in a letter to parents and the community, reserves only last so long. A genuine solution to the long-term structural financial challenges of the state is necessary. We’ll see how long that takes.
Forest Park has long been at a distance from its public high schools in Proviso Township. But progress has been made, largely through the election of two locals a year ago to the school board at District 209.
Now there is an opportunity for Forest Park to take another positive step at reintegrating itself into the ordinary life of a high school district.
District 209 officials are reaching out to Forest Park, asking for an OK to host the district’s summer school program at the Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park. The request is not for this summer but for future years. The district points out that its two other schools — Proviso East and Proviso West — are older facilities in need of considerable work over summer months. Additionally, PMSA is an air-conditioned facility.
Village Administrator Tim Gillian said he does not recall why the village has an ordinance restricting use of the Forest Park campus to just PMSA students. It is this restriction that led to the request being forwarded to the Zoning Board of Appeals at a meeting held after our press time.
We suspect the village had worries over a summer school enrollment heavy on remedial students. We think it is too stereotypical to equate remedial students with potential disruptions. But an agreement can stipulate that D209 is responsible for any added security necessary for summer classes.
Forest Park needs to welcome opportunities to play its full role as part of D209 schools. For too long our village has turned a cold shoulder to this district. There is more to gain from engagement.