Marty Sorice Sr. has become one of the most influential people in town. Owning 11 businesses will have that effect. Being willing to advocate for a controversial proposal and then winning that fight adds to the influence.

That the Review has long opposed video gaming, the proposition that Sorice so strongly backed for his bar-based businesses, does not cloud our recognition of his role in Forest Park. We disagree with him on video gaming. That’s life. We’ve also noted that, as this endless fight unspooled, our greatest frustration was not with video gaming itself but with the lack of leadership coming out of village hall.

Today’s paper includes Tom Holmes’ interesting interview with Sorice on a range of local issues. And while our opposition to gaming remains steadfast, we agree with Sorice that Forest Park businesses face substantial external challenges and the time for endless fighting needs to end.

Headway in Proviso

More progress to report on two fronts in our Proviso Township High Schools:

Next week, the school board will choose an architectural firm to undertake the first-in-memory comprehensive study of the physical plants of the district’s three high schools. This is a district that, among other sins, spent decades ignoring its school buildings. Only essential repairs were made. No strategic investment occurred in the buildings to keep them in tune with changing enrollment levels, new technology, and new needs in how classrooms should be configured.

While Proviso East has been burnished to a spit polish by its current leaders, there are fundamental questions about the future of the district’s oldest facility. It is overly large, expensive to update and has suffered through decades of inattention. There have been quiet discussions about leveling the current facility and replacing it rather than make the never-ending investments to modernize the plant.

We don’t know enough — no one does — to have an opinion on this. But the Master Facilities Plan will certainly consider all options and make recommendations.

Oddly, hiring an architect can be almost as political in a school district as hiring a law firm. We expect that the current and divided school board will act wisely when it makes its choice next week.

Meanwhile, new Supt. Jesse Rodriguez has the happy and profound opportunity to hire a new principal following the resignation of Oscar Hawthorne at Proviso West. Hawthorne did not appear to be a bad principal. But not being actively bad is clearly not good enough in the new regime that Rodriguez is bringing to Proviso schools. 

Thank goodness.

Count us among those who believe that a strong, visionary, visible principal is essential to any school turnaround. East has just such a principal in Dr. Patrick Hardy. That Hardy and Rodriguez have bonded over the need for intense change at East is a great benefit to the district. Now Rodriguez needs to replicate that energy and those expectations at Proviso West.

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