“Part of what we do in a master plan, we ask the hard questions.” That’s what a representative of the Perkins+Will architectural firm told a recent community meeting focused on what to do with Proviso Township High Schools’ three aging and underutilized high school campuses. 

This master facilities process, long overdue, is driven by the school board and its administration. But the architects charged with running the process have made sincere efforts to connect with Proviso Township residents long over-taxed and under-served by a failing public high school system.

There’s another public session on April 24, a master plan proposal in May, and a meeting with the school board in June.

To this point, there are five options on the table. And just one of them includes coming out the end of this process with three updated school buildings still serving the same basic purposes. 

Options two through five would ditch the Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA) building in Forest Park and relocate that program, in some form, at either Proviso East or Proviso West. 

That would be asking the hard questions.

We were never fans of skimming the top-performing students at East and West and segregating them into a separate $40 million, badly retrofitted office building, even if, to some degree, Forest Park benefitted from having a successful gifted school within its borders. 

That decision, a decade ago, left both East and West with a demoralized community of students, parents and faculty fully aware that they were those consciously left behind. It left both schools underutilized. And it exacerbated the tough finances of a district left without a dime to ever invest in its original two schools.  

It is too soon to judge the various proposals currently being developed. We are certain though that, if the choice is made to shutter the old Loyola office building at Roosevelt and First, it will be incumbent upon Forest Parkers to remain engaged in the renaissance of this school district, to embrace the changes to come to the benefit of each family in Proviso Township.

Fair deal for Living Fresh

Forest Park’s village government has made a solid investment with the village council’s unanimous decision to back a $450,000 incentive plan for the Living Fresh Market planned for Roosevelt Road. 

Under the terms agreed to by both parties, the village will pay the grocery store owners $5,000 for each $1 million in gross sales over the course of seven years, with a cap of $450,000 in total. The funds will come from the village’s TIF fund. 

Nice work by Mayor Anthony Calderone and Living Word Church, owners of the shopping plaza, for so quickly filling the 70,000-square-foot vacancy. In a tough market for the grocery industry, that is a notable success.

 Rooting for Andrea’s

Andrea’s Restaurant, another Roosevelt Road landmark, suffered a serious fire 10 days ago. Its family owners have vowed to rebuild and for that we are grateful. Want to support the Andrea’s team? Take part in the fundraiser next Monday at Scratch Kitchen on Madison. A full 25 percent of the evening’s sales — 5 to 9 p.m. — will go to Andrea’s.