For the third time in just two years, the school board at Proviso Township High School District 209 has lavished a still richer, still more protective contract on Supt. James Henderson.

We find it inexplicable and we find it disgraceful. 

Just two years ago, with a sorry and dubious record as a school administrator bouncing among districts before skedaddling, this school board unanimously hired Henderson from a failed district in Mississippi. That contract was for three years and paid a generous but fair wage.

A year ago with Henderson under deserved fire from many sources, the board approved a new contract, this one for five years and loaded with ups and extras. 

Now, as the district comes off a long, divisive teachers strike, a narrow board majority ripped up that contract and replaced it with a new five-year deal with an additional $31,000 annuity. More significantly, though, this contract guarantees a three-year payout if the superintendent is dismissed for any reason.

That’s a guarantee his sorry performance to date in no way warrants. Board member Rodney Alexander defended that job assurance as necessary because Henderson has been subjected to “personal attacks, discrimination and sheer hatred.” Further, he said, “once your name is sullied” it is hard to find a new job.

James Henderson arrived in this district with his name already sullied. The board failed in its due diligence two years ago and now a flippable majority is guaranteeing his employment.

This will not end well.

Shared efforts, shared values

Two stories this week reflect the power and the grace of collaboration among local villages that have not previously been aligned.

On page one we celebrate the growth of Juneteenth as a new national holiday, but one with a strong local history in Forest Park where Mayor Rory Hoskins, a native of Galveston, Texas, has championed its recognition for 14 years with the annual Juneteenth pool party.

This year the Juneteenth recognition grew exponentially with four towns — Forest Park, Broadview, Oak Park and River Forest — jointly planning a West Villages Parade, Oak Park celebrating with a barbeque in Taylor Park, House Speaker Chris Welch hosting a Juneteenth Fathers’ Day barbeque, and Broadview capping off a three-day Juneteenth weekend with fireworks.

We also report this week on these same four villages signing on to the Cross-Community Climate Collaborative (C4). This critical work will focus shared local efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and working together on other environmental projects. 

This proposal was spearheaded by Katrina Thompson, the go-getter mayor of Broadview. And rightly, it reflects and acknowledges the equity issues that climate change imposes, particularly on communities of color and with lesser investment and incomes.

Our future is shared. From learning the lessons Juneteenth can teach us to taking on local responsibility for our climate, we will do better when we work together.