School Beat — November 25, 2009

Bond monies support RPS fine arts programs

by MIKE CUNEO
Assistant Superintendent, Finance
Rockford Public Schools

As the construction season winds down for the fall, I would like to take this opportunity to update the community on the work completed and yet to be completed.

Work has been started on five of the largest construction projects in the scope of the approved bond issue. As you drive around the Rockford Public Schools (RPS) district, you will see additions in progress at the following elementary buildings: Cannonsburg, Lakes, Roguewood and Valley View. All projects are on schedule and we are in the stages at some additions of finishing work (i.e. painting, carpeting and new furniture). You will also see multi-purpose fields completed at Roguewood Elementary, the addition of new fields at East Rockford Middle School and the high school/freshman center campus. Design work has been completed for the remaining elementary buildings and also for the planned addition at East Rockford Middle School as well as the facility upgrades to North Rockford Middle School, and construction on these projects will begin in the spring of 2010.

However, there are many additional purchases/projects beyond construction projects that are not as easily visible. We have highlighted technology upgrades and the purchase of new computers, etc., previously in other presentations. I would like to highlight for the community the bond monies that have been expended to support the district’s fine arts programs.

Over $90,000 has been spent on the purchase of new band instruments. Part of the rationale for a turf field at the Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium was the multi-purpose field would fill the need for practice fields for the band program and would optimize their performances and the program. New risers and pianos have been purchased for the choir program at the high school and freshman center. Monies have also been allocated for new instruments for the proposed orchestra program.

In addition, we have allocated over $200,000 for facility and equipment upgrades to the district’s auditorium. A new state-of-the art, high-tech operating system has been installed. This computerized, digital system will control the sound and lighting systems and also incorporate portable controls. The electrical and rigging systems have been completely updated, as well as a new projection system and screen. Lighting upgrades also now include the “follow spot” technology. All of these purchases and upgrades will enhance our students’ theatrical and musical performances.

This school year, over 130 events are scheduled in the auditorium. These events include band, choir and elementary concerts, theater and musical performances as well as awards ceremonies, and they encompass all grade levels in the district. Performances sponsored by the Rockford Education Foundation and the Rockford Area Arts Commission are also presented in the auditorium. While we may not take notice of the new equipment and upgrades when we watch our students perform or when we sit in the auditorium to view the many programs presented, please know your support has made these improvements possible.

As a summary of the $45 million bond issue, it is important to note the breakdown of how these monies have been allocated. Thirteen percent of the monies have been allocated for the improvement of fields for community recreation and the district’s co-curricular programs, 17% of the monies have been allocated for upgrades and the purchase of new technologies, and 70% of the monies have been allocated for facility and classroom improvements. The majority of the monies are being used for your child’s classroom and to enhance the curriculum provided to our students. These monies are making a difference in the education of your child and we are extremely grateful for the community’s support.

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