There are many things to admire in the new scheduling and curriculum plan being rolled out at the middle school in Forest Park. Longer class periods in core subjects such as math and language arts, adding more STEM-focused curriculum, adding Spanish to five days per week for all seventh- and eighth-graders — all positive innovations and refinements.

We have some worry over a return to academic tracking for the worthy purpose of bringing Algebra I into the mix for eighth-graders. The plan announced at the last school board meeting by Supt. Louis Cavallo promises that tracking — choosing the top 25 percent of students for advanced math — will be a transition until all eighth-graders are gradually included.

We are not fans of academic tracking, not because we oppose academic rigor but because we fret that students with less innate math proficiency will be left further behind. That said, we understand the decision and trust that it will be temporary.

Our District 91 public schools face many challenges. But we continue to admire the district for its bold initiatives to face up to those challenges.

Development trifecta

This is a season for development in Forest Park. And as the long, steady national economic recovery moves toward late middle age, we say go for the gusto, Forest Park. 

This week the village council signed off on three notable projects. Each has been vetted by the village’s zoning and planning commissions and all have been reported on in the Review in recent months. Construction should be just ahead.

As we’ve noted on this page, the plan to build an upscale apartment project on the current Madison Street site of the old Molly Malone’s is a home run. These are high-end units by a top developer that will match up with the coming upgrades of River Forest’s side of the same street.

And while we all pine for the glory days of Kevil’s restaurant on Circle Avenue, the plan to build new senior apartment housing on that site and one adjoining along Circle is a great use and a major upgrade. Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park are all actively looking to add housing specifically for elders as they downsize in their home communities. 

Finally, there is a new proposal for retail on the long-vacant gateway site at Madison and Harlem. While a strip mall might not be our first choice for this prime parcel, our urban wonk gets excited by the notable site plan the council approved. Instead of placing the almost 6,000-square-foot structure at the rear of the lot and leading with an ugly parking lot — as in the standard-issue strip mall — developer and property owner Jay Javors has fronted the building right on Harlem with the parking to the west. 

This is a respectful bow to Forest Park’s handsome century-old downtown with a preserved street wall less oriented to autos and more scaled to pedestrians. This is a handsome project.

Congratulations to Forest Park, its mayor, administrator and council, for bringing these winning developments to fruition.