By the time this editorial is published, the election will be over and some version of a new school board will have been selected for the Proviso Township District 209 high schools.

And depending on which candidates were chosen by voters the out-of-the-blue proposal/trial balloon/distraction to have the district purchase a vacant school campus in Westchester will either move ahead or just dissipate like so many oddities from the fevered administration of Supt. James Henderson.

Where, when and why the idea surfaced that D209 should actively consider selling off the Proviso Math and Science Academy campus in Forest Park while buying the shuttered St. Joseph High School in Westchester as its replacement is typically murky.

Two current school board members interviewed by Amaris Rodriguez, our education reporter, said the notion came out of nowhere from Henderson during an executive session of a March school board meeting. There was no feasibility study, no financial estimates, no explanation of where funding would come from or what exactly would be the motivation for such a drastic and risky plan, said school board members Amanda Grant and Claudia Medina.

“This is a pure political stunt,” said Grant.

And yet without any basic information and without any genuine board discussion of the vague but radical notion, within days of the closed board meeting, the Henderson administration pushed out an online community survey asking Proviso residents to chime in on the issue.

“Your input is crucial, valued and appreciated. Should PTHS purchase the former St. Joseph High School?” read the survey.

This, of course, is all absurd and abnormal. Just as a superintendent can’t drop a concept like swapping out one recently improved campus for an aging Catholic high school facility on his school board without more detail, surveying the community on this pie-in-the-sky, made-up nonsense is ridiculous. 

We’re troubled by the total incompetence this reflects. But since it involves Supt. Henderson we’re more focused on trying to figure out what devious angle he is trying to play. Nothing is ever straight when James Henderson is driving the train. “Northbound to greatness” is unlikely. Off the rails is the most certain outcome of his suspect actions.

The late campaign mailer

In a town of great traditions, last-minute election mailers are not among them. True to the form of every recent election season, mean, divisive and, dishonestly confusing flyers began arriving in local mailboxes late last week. The piece was what? An attack on Maria Maxham and Jessica Voogd, candidates for village council? An attack on Teresa Kelly, candidate for the D209 school board?

Mainly though, it felt like an effort to further split the local vote for the high school board in an effort to deny a reform slate a majority on the board.

It was crude in its name-calling and in its intent. But the mailer reflects that there is still an undercurrent of fear in our local politics. Good for the six candidates for village council to unite with a joint repudiating statement over the weekend.