We look forward to the seating of the new District 200 Board of Education early next month. Oak Park and River Forest voters last week chose wisely from the most crowded field of high school candidates we've ever seen. The new members — Tom Cofsky, Steve Gevinson, Jackie Moore, and Jeff Weissglass — were strong candidates. They will make the board even stronger.
The high school will face difficult challenges, such as the decades-old achievement gap, lingering substance-abuse issues among some students, and disposition of a very large fund reserve. We urge the next board to keep asking the tough questions and make even tougher decisions. Supt. Steven Isoye has also challenged everyone in the building to keep the racial equity question in the forefront while addressing academics. The board must act as willing partners, and co-leaders, in that challenge.
The school has undertaken an ambitious agenda over the last four years, including a strategic plan. We credit outgoing board president Terry Finnegan with strong leadership during that span. He is leaving a more unified and cohesive board than the one he joined in 2009. And while that previous board did accomplish much, the process getting there was rocky, sometimes downright ugly. Finnegan has been a good board president and a level-headed, thoughtful D200 trustee. He was a strong advocate for the faculty and students. As board president, he made sure all voices were heard, even if every viewpoint expressed wasn't always universally accepted.
We applaud Finnegan and the current board for their work.