District 209 School Board Endorsements: Incumbents Kelly, Medina, Wagner earn reelection

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By Editorial

Most people familiar with Proviso Township High Schools District 209's history of patronage, corruption and rank incompetence will agree that the district as it exists now is not the district that we remember from just five years ago. 

To argue that the upstart, largely grassroots Proviso Together candidates who, propelled by old-fashioned sweat and tears, secured a 7-person supermajority on the district's board a few years ago, have not engineered a significant cultural sea change in the district would be disingenuous and in bad faith. 

 Mysterious no-bid contracts given out with no oversight and accountability. A board up to its collective neck in pending lawsuits. Textbooks that didn't even merit the name. Buildings that hadn't seen any care and attention in 50 years. School environments that were outright hostile to alien forces such as … well, parents. Students, particularly young black boys, expelled at an unsettling clip. 

Four years after the party first secured a grip on power and two years after it took full control over the board, there is a something of a verdict out on Together and it's solid. 

The district now has an A+ bond rating to complement its once-in-a-lifetime plan for identifying the district's most pressing capital needs and what appears to be a sound financial strategy for addressing them. An equitable approach to funding the district's three campuses, which means that more money for East and West (where it's needed most) than for PMSA. 

 New textbooks. Laptops for all students. A deliberate strategy for including parents in students' school lives through the implementation of parent centers and parent coordinators at East and West. Innovative curricula, such as the pioneering Marzano Academy at Proviso East. 

There are more concrete, measurable achievements that have taken place in D209 within the last four years than we have space enough to list. For that, Proviso Together's crop of candidates — sitting board members Theresa Kelly, Ned Wagner and Claudia Medina — earn our proud endorsement, as they have in the previous two election cycles. 

Proviso United's Laighton Scott, Denard Wade and Beverly Robertson are all solid, grassroots candidates who have brought to the forefront some valid criticisms of the current board majority. Their most searing critique is the enduring inequity between PMSA, the district's magnet school, and East and West — despite the board's laudable work to address this inequity at the margins. 

We feel that the current board, taken aback by public backlash, shied away from seriously evaluating the long-term feasibility of maintaining the converted office building that is PMSA's current campus. And the board has still not adequately confronted the toll that this PMSA/East-West demarcation takes on the students who don't attend the magnet school.

The Proviso United candidates — when not weighted down by the toxic negativity of their campaign's behind-the-scenes handlers — were at their best when deploying their unique insight as engaged, on-the-ground community members to some of the district's ongoing challenges. 

Despite, at times, what appeared to be a rather glaring lack of preparation and engagement with some issues, particularly the district's finances, the Proviso United candidates (not the campaign) have nonetheless earned our respect. And we hope that they and Proviso Together can get over their differences and seriously address the challenges that were highlighted in this campaign season — for the sake of the students. 

Sandy Aguirre, the only unaffiliated candidate in the race, was too emotionally charged, too woefully unprepared and too mysteriously close to the power players of D209's sordid past to earn our serious consideration. 

Reader Comments

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Kathy Driscoll from Forest Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 10:10 PM

Congratulations to Theresa Kelly, Ned Wagner and Claudia Medina. They've worked tirelessly the past four years and are just getting started. Let the progress continue!

Geoff Binns-Calvey  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 5:11 PM

Sandy Aguirre has just shown up on a flyer, delivered to my house, that puts her in with Medina and Wagner, but no Kelly. It's a transparent attempt to confuse the voters, and swing the majority vote back to the old gang, that ran the school budget as their personal slush fund, before Medina/Wagner/Kelly we're voted in 3 years ago, and started making the students the first priority. Don't be confused.

Robert C. Cox from Forest Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 4:54 PM

Just for colorful balance in media. FPR is about 70% accurate in their evaluation of this D209 election. It's too bad that the negative perception and crisis journalism the FPR likes to make opinion on is still in use in 2019.No mention of the election cycle where they dis not endorse anybody running for D209BOE. I'm not in the endorsement business anymore. Despite the fact that this Oak Park paper did not endorse me in 2003 . I did get elected to D209 in 2007-2011.I flushed the old political, irrational hatred of everything Proviso years ago. I'm a voter and Proviso stakeholder and I find out about candidates by direct contact not newspaper editorial endorsements.Don't try to underestimate any candidate's enthusiasm or intent and candidates always take endorsement or not... with a grain of salt.

Robert C. Cox  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 4:23 PM

Just for balance FPR observations about PTHS are about 70% accurate. The old political narrative which is coveted by this Oak Park paper is once again dragged in. I'm out of the endorsement business and at best it's a subjective crap shoot, because I'm a voter and Proviso High School stake holder i prefer to find out on my own. Negative perception of PTHS through crisis journalism has more detriments than benefit .I remember the election cycle where no endorsements of any DB209 candidates were made by FRR. When will educational matters and student issues be given the attention and exposure it requires? What do I know? Robert"Bob" Cox A former candidate that FPR did not endorse in 2003. Elected to D209 Board of Education 2007-2011

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