Superintendent shares progress, problems facing district

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT—Rockford Superintendent spoke before business people on Rockford schools and the education system in Michigan.

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT—Rockford Superintendent spoke before business people on Rockford schools and the education system in Michigan.

Football should be played on grass, believes Dr. Michael Shibler, Rockford Public School Superintendent. He also stated that Head Football Coach Ralph Munger believes football should be played on grass. Nonetheless, as the new Mondo artificial turf multi-use (formerly football) field opens this Thursday, September 3, Shibler is thrilled with the new field.

With state-of-the-art technology that allows the artificial turf to one day be recycled, stay cooler during hot game or practice days, and allow extended use of the field, the new field is a wonderful addition and made possible by last May’s successful millage. “I believe in doing it right the first time, especially when spending taxpayer dollars,” said Shibler. He was one of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce guest speakers at the every-other-month luncheon series.

The field will be “unveiled” during a rededication ceremony of the Ted Carlson stadium at 7 p.m. (see story on page 1). It was one of many topics Shibler discussed during the business luncheon held at Bostwick Lake Inn. Improvements to the district are possible through the community’s support of its school through millage approvals as well as the strong base of volunteers Rockford enjoys. Shibler took the time to educate those in the audience on all the district has accomplished through support from the residents, parents and staff.

Shibler stated that the district has changed in many ways since he began as superintendent. He praised the great working relationship between the school and the business community, and said one of the first things he emphasized 23 years ago was that the school be an active partner with businesses, the City and our townships.

“This is my 42nd year as a Michigan educator and I can’t think of a better place to be,” Shibler said. He said when he started the district had 4,100 students and now there are 8,100 in grades kindergarten through 12. In 1989 the district began planning its RAMS program (Rockford Action Model for Success). Each RAMS is a three-year plan of improvement now in its seventh version. The district has 1,000 employees and a $74 million annual budget, but receives the lowest funding per student in Kent County.

Ending or lessening the difference in per-student funding—comparable schools receive as much as ten million more per year because they receive more per student—has been one of Shibler’s long-term goals. Another long-term goal that was met this year was working to have each school in the district earn the prestigious Blue Ribbon designation. “We started in 1993 with Valley View,” Shibler said. “Sixteen years later, Meadow Ridge became the final school in the district to earn the designation. Talk about perseverance.” Shibler said Rockford is the only large district in the state to have all schools earn the Blue Ribbon.

“We are far from perfect,” Shibler stated. “I believe in continuous improvement. I believe we are better this year than last year. We are not perfect, we make mistakes.” Efforts to improve the school are evident. Shibler used as an example the fact that the district received straight As for the last five years in a row from the program Education Yes. Only one other district in the county achieved this.

He is also proud of the school’s language program, which he called second to none. He praised the Ram Café, a student-run business. He is proud of the amazing and continuous success of the Rockford Odyssey of the Mind program which regularly heads to world championships and this year took second by only a few points to a team from Singapore.

Shibler told diners that a new school web site would shortly be unveiled (see story on page 8). He also said that in 1994 Rockford became the first and only district to offer a guaranteed diploma. Those hiring Rockford grads can be confident the students have received an excellent education. “I put my phone number on each diploma,” he said. “If the kids don’t have the skills they should, we offer free night school to give them those skills. “Shibler also pointed out that in the last 12 years Rockford athletics have earned 29 state championships.

Shibler said voters can be confident the money they approved for the school is being put to very good and necessary use. He also stressed that the school district is a West Michigan stimulus. “Seventy-percent of the businesses we hire [for improvements] are from West Michigan,” he said.

There are many issues facing districts today, including Rockford. Shibler said his job description has “changed radically” over the years. He said passage of Proposal A took much of local control away from schools. He Superintendent shares progress, problems facing district

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT—Rockford Superintendent spoke before business people on Rockford schools and the education system in Michigan.

Football should be played on grass, believes Dr. Michael Shibler, Rockford Public School Superintendent. He also stated that Head Football Coach Ralph Munger believes football should be played on grass. Nonetheless, as the new Mondo artificial turf multi-use (formerly football) field opens this Thursday, September 3, Shibler is thrilled with the new field.

With state-of-the-art technology that allows the artificial turf to one day be recycled, stay cooler during hot game or practice days, and allow extended use of the field, the new field is a wonderful addition and made possible by last May’s successful millage. “I believe in doing it right the first time, especially when spending taxpayer dollars,” said Shibler. He was one of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce guest speakers at the every-other-month luncheon series.

The field will be “unveiled” during a rededication ceremony of the Ted Carlson stadium at 7 p.m. (see story on page 1). It was one of many topics Shibler discussed during the business luncheon held at Bostwick Lake Inn. Improvements to the district are possible through the community’s support of its school through millage approvals as well as the strong base of volunteers Rockford enjoys. Shibler took the time to educate those in the audience on all the district has accomplished through support from the residents, parents and staff.

Shibler stated that the district has changed in many ways since he began as superintendent. He praised the great working relationship between the school and the business community, and said one of the first things he emphasized 23 years ago was that the school be an active partner with businesses, the City and our townships.

“This is my 42nd year as a Michigan educator and I can’t think of a better place to be,” Shibler said. He said when he started the district had 4,100 students and now there are 8,100 in grades kindergarten through 12. In 1989 the district began planning its RAMS program (Rockford Action Model for Success). Each RAMS is a three-year plan of improvement now in its seventh version. The district has 1,000 employees and a $74 million annual budget, but receives the lowest funding per student in Kent County.

Ending or lessening the difference in per-student funding—comparable schools receive as much as ten million more per year because they receive more per student—has been one of Shibler’s long-term goals. Another long-term goal that was met this year was working to have each school in the district earn the prestigious Blue Ribbon designation. “We started in 1993 with Valley View,” Shibler said. “Sixteen years later, Meadow Ridge became the final school in the district to earn the designation. Talk about perseverance.” Shibler said Rockford is the only large district in the state to have all schools earn the Blue Ribbon.

“We are far from perfect,” Shibler stated. “I believe in continuous improvement. I believe we are better this year than last year. We are not perfect, we make mistakes.” Efforts to improve the school are evident. Shibler used as an example the fact that the district received straight As for the last five years in a row from the program Education Yes. Only one other district in the county achieved this.

He is also proud of the school’s language program, which he called second to none. He praised the Ram Café, a student-run business. He is proud of the amazing and continuous success of the Rockford Odyssey of the Mind program which regularly heads to world championships and this year took second by only a few points to a team from Singapore.

Shibler told diners that a new school web site would shortly be unveiled (see story on page 8). He also said that in 1994 Rockford became the first and only district to offer a guaranteed diploma. Those hiring Rockford grads can be confident the students have received an excellent education. “I put my phone number on each diploma,” he said. “If the kids don’t have the skills they should, we offer free night school to give them those skills. “Shibler also pointed out that in the last 12 years Rockford athletics have earned 29 state championships.

Shibler said voters can be confident the money they approved for the school is being put to very good and necessary use. He also stressed that the school district is a West Michigan stimulus. “Seventy-percent of the businesses we hire [for improvements] are from West Michigan,” he said.

There are many issues facing districts today, including Rockford. Shibler said his job description has “changed radically” over the years. He said passage of Proposal A took much of local control away from schools. He said he now has to be politically involved to see that changes are made in school financing. He is the chair of the Kent County grass roots Political Action Committee, which speaks of funding issues in Lansing. “The State of Michigan is in a world of hurt,” Shibler said. He praised a formula which will gradually equalize per-child funding, but said much more needs to be done. “Insurance cost is a huge issue. We need a law passed that requires all public employees to pay part of their health insurance.” He also disagrees with new state requirements for graduation. “We went from nonexistent requirements to the toughest in the country,” he said.

Shibler promised that he is not done in his efforts to improve the district and education in the State of Michigan. “We have something special in Rockford. It’s the community. I’m 62 now. I’ll turn 63 on September 3. I’m healthy, I feel good. The only other job I would consider is if I decide to run for state legislature. It’s the people of Rockford that make this district what it is. That’s why I came here and that’s why I’ve stayed.”

said he now has to be politically involved to see that changes are made in school financing. He is the chair of the Kent County grass roots Political Action Committee, which speaks of funding issues in Lansing. “The State of Michigan is in a world of hurt,” Shibler said. He praised a formula which will gradually equalize per-child funding, but said much more needs to be done. “Insurance cost is a huge issue. We need a law passed that requires all public employees to pay part of their health insurance.” He also disagrees with new state requirements for graduation. “We went from nonexistent requirements to the toughest in the country,” he said.

Shibler promised that he is not done in his efforts to improve the district and education in the State of Michigan. “We have something special in Rockford. It’s the community. I’m 62 now. I’ll turn 63 on September 3. I’m healthy, I feel good. The only other job I would consider is if I decide to run for state legislature. It’s the people of Rockford that make this district what it is. That’s why I came here and that’s why I’ve stayed.”

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