The District 209 Proviso Township school board chose a new slate of board officers last week and we applaud the outcome. In as president is Ned Wagner, a Forest Park resident, who we see as a steady, progressive influence on this board. Joining him as officers are Sam Valtierrez as vice president and Amanda Grant who moves from VP to secretary.

We’d urge this redefined leadership to focus on supporting the efforts of Supt. Jesse Rodriguez. This board wisely chose Rodriguez two years ago to lead a full-scale transformation of th long dysfunctional school district. His efforts to date have been exceptionally focused and strong.

 Recently, the narrow decision of a board majority to reject a series of vital new administrative hires undermined both solving immediate staffing needs — HR and finance directors — and the superintendent’s long-term standing in the district. This was a full-blown error by a board that has, to date, been outstanding.

Moving forward with new leadership, we look for a school board that sets broad policy initiatives but stays away from interference with the rightful prerogatives of a talented superintendent.

Forest Park’s bank

In a Review article today marking the 75th anniversary of Forest Park National Bank, Jerry Vainisi, its longtime chairman, makes this cogent comment: “Show me a vibrant downtown area, and I’ll show you an area of town that has a bank that’s actively involved in the community.”

We’d grow that observation beyond just a community’s downtown. Vital communities such as Forest Park benefit enormously, in ways tangible and intangible, from the active presence of a locally owned, locally run community bank. In keeping capital flowing to small businesses for investment, to homeowners for upgrades, to local nonprofits for their critical efforts, banks such as Forest Park National are the lifeblood of growth and identity.

Vainisi pointed specifically, in an interview with our Nona Tepper, to the year 1999 when the Main Street Redevelopment Corporation was formed. Backed by the bank, individually by bank officers, by other businesses and by local government leaders, Main Street brought transformational energy to a Madison Street that had lost its purpose and evolved into a rag-tag collection of antique stores, medical offices and tired bars. 

Without this bank pumping money into remaking old, worn-out buildings, lending to entrepreneurs and cheerleading for Madison Street, Forest Park’s strong comeback would not have happened.

Next week, the bank celebrates its history, unveils its new logo and shortened moniker, and announces its preparations for expanded banking technology and added branches. It is a declaration of faith in Forest Park, in the essential role of a community bank, and a recognition of 75 years of proud and committed history.