Leaders of the public elementary schools in Forest Park have heard proposals for the future of its shuttered Grant-White School from both village government and the park district. They gathered community input at a special listening event early this month.
In both these proposals, in the “Harvest” listening session, and in its own board and administration discussions, there is a consensus that the future of Grant-White must be child-centered and community-focused.
So that’s good. Beyond that, though, District 91 leaders seem at best ambivalent about what to do with this building on Randolph Street. Two years after closing Grant-White due to long-term and notable enrollment declines, the district has rightly concluded it needs to make a more substantive plan than using the building for school board meetings, summer programs and school bus parking.
But now as it has actual viable options to consider, it seems to have developed lessor’s remorse. From the superintendent and across the school board there is some hoped-for-but-unlikely enrollment rebound which would require reopening Grant-White as a school.
And so, in preliminary discussions roadblocks are being raised. Any structural changes to the building that would make it work better for the park district or the village’s child- and teen-centered plans must be limited, the district suggests, so that classroom spaces are preserved.
Can’t have it both ways. We’d suggest that the school board, which is considering voting on the proposals as early as next month, take a pause, reassess its priorities for the building, for its financial goals, and move forward when their worthy motives are clearer.
Not a long pause. But time to focus exclusively on what it needs to accomplish here for itself and for the community and its families.
Melin-Rogovin’s listening session
Voters and non-voters often bray about elected officials never listening to them. There is some truth to that. However, when sincere candidates promise and, when elected, deliver on pledges to sit down for conversations with voters, the audience is more meager than eager.
So it was when Michelle Melin-Rogovin, a Forest Park village commissioner, hosted her first community meeting recently. Four guests joined the meeting while two people stopped by. Could have been better, but a game Melin-Rogovin said by the time she makes the next invite in the spring she expects the crowd to build a bit.
That said, there was still value in the conversation as an interesting range of topics were raised. Some were very local: recycling and composting were discussed. Flooding was raised, as it should be. And in a town with an increasingly progressive view, there was discussion about the intersection of the national failure to make a humane plan for immigration and the local impact of thousands of migrants landing in Chicago, many on the West Side.
What should Forest Park’s official and unofficial role be in providing direct help to migrants crowded into West Side police stations? Is there state grant money available to provide direct help?
These are important topics. Good for those residents who turned out to share their concerns. And good for Commissioner Melin-Rogovin for being there to listen.