by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Rockford Public Schools
With the end of the 2010-11 school year rapidly approaching, I would like to briefly review this past year.
Senior Class of 2011
Congratulations to the 624 Rockford High School and River Valley Academy seniors who will be 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.
Another Eventful Year
We have many things to be proud of here at Rockford Public Schools and, at the top of the list is our students. Once again, Rockford students continue to excel academically as well as in the fine arts, athletics, and in other co-curricular activities.
This year also saw several firsts in our district, including the privilege to host the Special Olympics State Basketball Tournament and the induction of the first group of Rockford Hall of Fame inductees, which recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of Rockford alumni and residents who have made their mark on the world. Ram pride was demonstrated through “The Year of the Ram” project as statues appeared and continue to grace our community.
Staff and students continue to explore the world first-hand, with students traveling to China last fall to learn about the Chinese language and culture, and students and staff members traveling to Haiti to provide relief efforts in the wake of the devastating earthquake.
In the true spirit of growth, the Rockford Community Gardens will flourish and thrive for the first time ever. The gardens provide a new opportunity for our residents to plant and harvest their own produce, flowers, etc. Please contact our Community Services Department if you are interested in learning more about the gardens.
The fall of 2011 will see the launch of the district’s new Early Childhood Center (ECC) at Meadow Ridge Elementary School. The ECC will house all of the district’s developmental kindergarten and early childhood special education students and allows for collaboration of services to provide a second-to-none educational experience for our youngest learners.
We are currently working on RAMS VIII, the district’s eighth strategic plan for success, which will be developed using input from parents, staff, students and the community at large to identify future goals for the district. The plan will be available in January 2012 and will carry us through December 2014.
May 2008 Bond Issue
In 2008, 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. Approximately 90 percent of projects have been completed, all well within budget and, I am happy to say that over 90 percent of vendors used are Michigan vendors. As a reminder, bond revenues must be used for capital improvements and, by law, cannot be used for operating expenses.
State Financial Crisis
We will continue to work with our state legislators to establish consistent and reliable funding for K-12 public schools. The governor’s proposed budget is cause for great concern and, if passed, could devastate public education. I am wrapping up 34 presentations to staff and parents to inform them of what this could mean for Rockford Public Schools and what they can do to help. For more information, please see our website at www.rockfordschools.org.
We are pleased to have Laura Featherston and Carol Hillman continue on as board trustees, each having been re-elected on May 3 to extend their terms through 2015. Congratulations, Laura and Carol, and thank you to all of our board trustees for their support and service to the students, staff and community.
As always, I encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns, and I wish you and your family a relaxing and safe summer!