THE LANDMARK VIEW
Newspaper editorials often fall back on clichs. Perhaps the greatest of them all is the “crossroads” metaphor. Every little thing is a historic crossroads.
Well, forgive us: Riverside-Brookfield High School is at a historic crossroads. A confluence of circumstances brings an overhauled and inexperienced school board, an incoming and rookie superintendent, and the consequences of an overwhelming, almost defiant, rejection of a tax increase referendum by frustrated voters to a moment of reckoning.
This didn’t happen by surprise. And it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But all involved need to recognize the opportunity ahead, its fragile nature, and the possibility that, handled badly, a fine school could be fractured. This is a moment to be respectful of the institution even as potentially significant changes come. It is a moment to come back to the mission of educating young people as a touchstone for making hard choices. And, most essentially, this is a moment to submerge egos and politics.
Recent years have brought melodrama to this school. From the shenanigans of the former superintendent to the hyperbole of the board and its detractors, this school has been vibrating at a high pitch for some years. It gets wearing.
Even last week as the newly elected board went through its internal processes of electing officers, there were signs that the infighting was not entirely in the past. Matt Sinde was elected president and the leader of a new board majority that has won the right to effectively redirect this school district. It is fine and necessary that the board’s small minority bloc be vocal, but always constructive.
The new majority – and its backers – need to pivot and play the leadership role with grace and genuine openness.
There are challenging days ahead at R-B. Economic issues translate immediately into educational issues. Educational issues segue into contract and benefit issues. Contracts and benefits come round to governance philosophies. More than any time in memory, everything is on the table at District 208. That’s OK, but only if issues and people are treated respectfully, only if all voices are heard, only if children remain the primary focus.
End of a crime spree
Burglaries are disconcerting. The sense of violation in the instant you know your home has been breached is far worse than the loss of the flat-screen. Since January, Riverside, North Riverside and Berwyn have been victimized by an endless string of burglaries.
Now at least 13 of those crimes have seemingly been solved with the arrests of five young men, all from Cicero, several with admitted gang ties.
It comes down to this: Five men, teens or barely past. Gang affiliations. Somewhere there are drug ties. Working three towns over, causing consternation, fear, unease over months. And then, finally, coincidentally, the screw-up. They knock on the wrong door of the wrong citizen who smells a rat and calls the cops. Police act fast and the spree is done.
Some sense of relief. Some sense of continued vulnerability.