It clearly is no way to run a state government. But, still, we’ll express gratitude that Forest Park’s park district will, seemingly, receive the state grant money long promised, then held hostage, and now, miraculously released as part of a kooky — OK half-assed — interim state budget compromise.

The funds — actually federal dollars funneled to and administered by states to grow open spaces — are critical to Forest Park’s long-planned construction of a recreation facility on the east end of The Park. With those funds stuck in limbo, the park board was contemplating building a stripped-down version of the rec center.

Now certain amenities and several necessities will be restored. Back are the critical showers in the locker rooms but also a lit walking path around the site and a gazebo as an outdoor gathering space.

All involved show proper grace and deference despite the absurdity of the state’s mismanagement and petty politics. Larry Piekarz, the park’s executive director, rightly praises state Sen. Kimberly Lightford and state Rep. Chris Welch for actively looking out for this project in Springfield. He praises members of his own board and staff, Mayor Anthony Calderone for working the phones and for repeated trips to lovely Springfield to make this righteous case.

Piekarz is also right to thank patient Forest Park taxpayers who voted, way back in 2010, to hike their taxes to fund this project. That was a good decision, even if no one could have predicted the absurd twists and turns that have followed.

Let’s start building. And, by the way, we’d also thank Larry Piekarz for many things, but especially this quote: “If we all work together and no one worries about who’s going to get the credit, a lot more things will get done.” 

Amen to that, Illinois.

Bragging rights at PMSA

Congratulations to the students, teachers, parents and administrators at the Proviso Math and Science Academy on its unexpected honor in being named the top high school in suburban Cook County by Chicago Magazine.

No matter our conclusion over the years that all these rankings are cockamamie assessments that don’t really hold water. In fact, this year Chicago Magazine acknowledged that its criteria for setting PMSA ahead of New Trier, Hinsdale Central and Oak Park and River Forest High School had changed with a diminished emphasis on standardized tests and more oomph put on graduation rates and lower spending per pupil.

We’re no fans of standardized tests, but it is hard to de-emphasize academic achievement in ranking schools.

Further, we’re still, after all these years, not fully on board with the model of scraping the top students from two troubled public high schools — Proviso East and Proviso West — and pronouncing a giant success at a selective-enrollment school. This model has not done Proviso East any favors.

That said, there are things worth bragging on at PMSA and gaining some third-party praise such as this ought to be widely proclaimed. Add some continued stability in leadership at the school, more transparent admissions policies, and the school will continue to grow.

Now, as then, the critical challenge is to raise up Proviso East and West.

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