No one likes to pay for what had previously been free. That includes parking on Madison Street. 

Forest Park got rid of parking meters on its downtown street at the turn of the century. And, yep, it felt good. Madison Street was starting its boom and finding a free parking space only added to the good vibe. 

That it was chronically hard to find a free space along the street and that all the village lots off Madison Street had meters was frustrating.

Now, though, it’s 2017, the village has a budget shortfall, and a new look is being taken at ending free parking along both Madison Street and Roosevelt Road. While the village is still in “we’re just studying it mode,” we’re in favor of charging for parking in the most sought-after spaces in town. Yes, it will help the village government close its revenue gap — Village Administrator Tim Gillian predicts it could raise $400,000. 

More importantly, it will unclog prime parking spaces too often being monopolized for entire shifts by business owners, store employees and cheapskate commuters heading to public transportation. If we want retailers, restaurants, bars and services to thrive, they need parking for customers. 

After a period of adjustment, a shopper will become less perturbed at paying 50 cents to park for an hour and just be pleased to have found a convenient spot. 

Our Tom Holmes surveyed local business owners at a recent Chamber event and found new unanimous support for a return to paid parking. The village should shorten their study and increase the flow of quarters into village coffers.

Progress beyond test scores

Bringing Proviso East and Proviso West back from test score abyss is going to be a long road. That’s not a surprise. But in the energized and optimistic era the Proviso Township high schools have entered under new leadership these past two years, it does come as something of a smack to the head when new test results are announced.

There are mitigating circumstances. Of course, and always. The state, obsessed with testing, cannot figure out a consistent way to create a fair test and so it keeps changing the testing model and that makes all comparisons to past years suspect.

Our advice? Ignore the tests for the next several years. Focus on the undergirding of a successful school. Are students motivated to come to class? The measures of that are chronic truancy and daily attendance and East and West are seeing positive movement. Are parents welcomed in the school as actual partners? The state report card measures parental involvement and again East and West are on the right track. Are students behaving better in school? Instances of discipline are down but, more critically, the district’s approach to behavior is shifting toward restorative measures and less punitive actions. The enthusiasm of teachers? Faculty morale numbers have been as deep in the dumper as test scores for multiple generations. There is headway being made.

Deep breaths. Celebrate success. Stay focused.