Education Blackboard — June 17, 2010

Closing thoughts… 

by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D.
Superintendent, Rockford Public Schools 

With the end of the 2009-10 school year rapidly approaching, I would like to make a few observations. 

Senior Class of 2010

Congratulations to the 625 Rockford High School and River Valley Academy seniors who are receiving a guaranteed diploma from the Rockford Public Schools (RPS). I wish you the very best that life has to offer, and I encourage you to use the skills you have acquired at RPS to further your life-long learning.

Losses

RPS students, staff and community have experienced several heart-wrenching losses this year. Beyond the pain that we have all experienced, I continue to be humbled by the overwhelming outreach, love and support demonstrated by our community for the families and friends of the loved ones who have passed. God bless you! 

More Recognition for RPS

As many of you already know, RPS is one of only a few school districts throughout Michigan that has all of its schools recognized by the state board of education as Blue Ribbon Exemplary Schools. Also, all of our schools are accredited by the North Central Association of Schools. Just recently, educators from Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan visited our district and conducted a comprehensive evaluation of our students’ test scores, educational and co-educational programs, preschool through adult education, curricula and staff, and they have recommended that RPS receive the AdvancED accreditation recognition, which is reserved for only a few school districts throughout the Midwest. 

May 2008 Bond Issue Progress

Two years ago, our community voted to renew a one-mill debt retirement levy that was scheduled to be retired. That generous renewal created $45 million for capital improvement projects throughout the school district, including classroom additions to existing buildings, updated district-wide instructional technology, and recreation and athletic fields. To date, all of the projects have been completed on time and within budget.

The only project which will require more work than originally anticipated is the renovation of the infrastructure of the North Rockford Middle School pool. Following a thorough evaluation of the facility, engineers determined more work was required, setting back the completion date to at least January 2011.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during the past two years, as we have efficiently used your tax dollars from the bond issue to upgrade all of our facilities. 

State Financial Crisis

I am sure that it comes as no surprise that the funding of Michigan’s public schools has reached a crisis. Our funding per child is less today than it was two years ago, and if reasonable solutions are not created by our state lawmakers soon, significant cuts to education will continue throughout Michigan.

Rather than hosting one or two district-wide public forums, as most school districts have done this spring, we have held over 35 meetings for staff and community members to inform and ask for feedback. We have also provided current legislative updates as they become available on the district’s webpage at www.rockfordschools.org.

As we progress through late spring, summer and early fall, the status of public school funding will continue to be a “moving target,” with changes occurring as late as October 1. There exist several appropriate solutions for our legislators to consider, including cost containment initiatives, as well as revenue enhancement opportunities. If our elected officials do nothing to repair the structural deficit which currently exists in the School Aid Fund, then Michigan’s schools will be in serious trouble. I urge you to contact your state representative, senator and the governor. Stay tuned!

As always, I encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns. Have a great summer!

About Squire News

The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.
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