It is a sincere effort by the school board at Proviso Township High School District 209 to engage in actual, intentional listening to its parents, students, teachers and taxpayers.
A series of surveys will be forthcoming in the coming months, soliciting input from the community on a range of issues related to the three high schools and the district overall.
Good to see this effort receive the unanimous support of what is most likely to be a divided board. Perhaps, though, if the board comes to see the virtue of listening to its constituents, its members might begin to listen to each other.
Surely there will be areas where they can agree in the interest of taking down the temperature and focusing on students.
Meanwhile, inviting residents to speak up and share their grievances is a necessary step. Listening without defensiveness is hard, but a necessary skill in a district which has so many legitimate points of division.
That the surveys being planned will allow for open-ended responses and not just “yes” or “no” checkboxes is wise if the goal is to really hear.
The school board is also moving toward creation of a Cooperation Committee, which will focus on areas of common themes and common ground. Another good idea and one which will invite active participation from across the district.
All that said, we do not see a path forward in District 209 that involves the continued employment of Superintendent James Henderson. He has been an actively divisive force, and we have no faith that he can ever move past that impulse to attempt to gather power by splintering this district into warring factions.
Enough drama. Enough diminishing.
Clearly this school board wants to focus on forward movement, common ground and fostering enough good will to make hard choices. None of that can happen with Henderson in charge.
Time to pull the plug now, make the big payout and secure the services of an interim superintendent who can begin to soothe the ruptures before the fall semester arrives.