School Beat


September 1, 2011 // 0 Comments

SCHOOL BEAT Rockford Public Schools Enters its 128th Year by RANDY SELLHORN President, Board of Education Dear families, faculty, staff and friends of the Rockford Public Schools: It’s an exciting time of year as we prepare for another school year! Rockford is entering its 128th year. Can you fathom the commitment it takes to endure for 128 years? Our schools are filled with great people who are eager to press on with the academic opportunities and traditions that have served our students so well. At the same time, with new leadership in some of our buildings, those schools will be the better for changes that have been made in the administration of those schools. In what we have done in the past and in what we will do in the future, your role as our supporters and advocates cannot be underestimated. Rockford Public Schools (RPS) values our community on all levels. We pride ourselves on making available learning opportunities for our children and recognize that education is by no means exclusive to the classroom. Nonetheless, the academic side of our mission is of great importance. We are fortunate that all of our faculty and staff members are committed to each child’s success. Our faculty, support staff and administrators have demonstrated great support for our students and community by agreeing to contract changes that will help us continue to provide nearly the same level of classroom opportunities we had in previous years. The well-documented struggles we have with funding from the state will require some changes, but they have been minimized by the contracts negotiated with our employee unions. RPS is a great value. The administration, faculty and staff, the parents, the Board of Trustees, and our legion of alumni all have a role to play in maintaining this great reputation of excellence. For all of us the lifeblood of our school is our students! The incoming class of 2012 is poised and ready to take their place as the senior students in a motivated student body. We also welcome our kindergarten students, the class of 2024—all of whom are eager to become Rams! It’s going to be a great year, and I look forward to speaking with each of you in the coming weeks!


August 25, 2011 // 0 Comments

SCHOOL BEAT Gender Equity: ‘Another One of Our Successful Programs’  by JAMIE HOSFORD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Rockford Public Schools Rockford Public Schools (RPS) has been a leader in West Michigan for more than 15 years in the areas of Gender Equity, Title IX and exceeding compliance benchmarks. RPS’ administration was on the initial Kent Intermediate School District (KISD) committee, beginning in the mid-1990s, to establish guidelines, procedures and reporting formats, and to hold local districts accountable for accurate annual data to assure Gender Equity was being followed.  KISD local school districts were the first schools to establish such a system in the State of Michigan and have been models for the Midwest. In the early 2000s, I was appointed to an oversight committee to develop a comprehensive reporting policy and to train local districts on how to report required Title IX data. Essentially, the committee developed a system that would become engrained in the culture of local districts, regardless of who was responsible for submitting data. The model that was created has three aspects of reporting, as follows: 1. By August 15 of each year, districts electronically submit a Title IX Compliance Report to the KISD. Included in the annual report is the athletic participation and budget information. Documents to be submitted are: •            Participation and Coaching Data Worksheet •            Title IX Annual Compliance Report •            Athletic Opportunities and three-part Title IX Compliance Worksheet 2.  Every three years, beginning June 1, 2007, a student interest survey will be completed by students in grades 9 through 11. The purpose of the student interest survey is to assure districts continue to monitor Title IX and Gender Equity and have equal opportunities for both male and female students. 3.  All collected data is shared with parents of athletes at each team’s beginning-of-the-season meeting. We report the annual data to our Board of Education each spring as well. In addition, parents are notified in the first newsletter of each school year that I am the Title IX compliance officer for the district. Included in that notification are the district’s grievance notification form and policy. Part of the compliance data looks at male/female enrollment, male/female total participants and total athletic contests by gender. It also looks at whether […]


August 18, 2011 // 0 Comments

SCHOOL BEAT Designing Inclusive Environments  by JIM VANDERKOLK Director of Operations Rockford Public Schools My daughter is finishing her masters degree in occupational therapy and presented me with a challenge (as my daughters frequently do): to assess the accessibility of Rockford High School from a wheel chair. So, I did. I navigated through the empty halls. Even though the school meets requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a few challenges are still there, especially with my lack of skill in a wheelchair. Entering various rooms, hallways and athletic fields, trying to get into the art hallway, navigating the elevator, and accessing the football stadium are all tricky maneuvers. I could only imagine what it would be like if I were trying to traverse a busy school full of students, employees and parents. Rockford has always made accessibility a priority. New projects and existing facilities all must meet specific requirements. Continuously evaluated for accessibility in order to develop the least restrictive environment for all. When planning new projects we must consider those who will be using them. For example, a visually impaired individual can locate and access a restroom, classrooms are available for an individual in a wheelchair, and athletic facilities manageable for someone with an orthopedic condition, among many other scenarios. Spending an afternoon in a wheelchair was a unique perspective, to say the least. Our existing facilities should strive for absolute inclusion. It is our responsibility to make accessibility for all a reality. The team component and a district-wide effort to remove hallway and classroom obstacles would improve the flow. Our continued goal is to provide the best possible environment for students, staff and the community. This requires a vigilant awareness of accessibility above and beyond the requirements. Spending time in the facilities with alertness to potential barriers to individuals with special needs will improve our own awareness and ways to improve Rockford Public Schools.


August 11, 2011 // 0 Comments

SCHOOL BEAT New school year brings bussing changes by JACQUIE FASE Director of Transportation Rockford Public Schools It’s been quite a busy summer down at the bus garage. I was given the challenge to think “outside the bus” to contain rising costs and to keep our level of service acceptable. As a perpetual positive thinker, I did not back down from the challenge. Change is inevitable if we want to succeed. I learned that fact years ago as a seamstress. Each bride who contracted a custom gown had her own idea; I had to make changes to fit the dream, but the end result was always the same:  Provide a service, stay within the budget and keep the customer happy. Faith Baldwin said, “Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.” As time goes on and expectations change, so must we: With the Early Childhood Center now at Meadow Ridge, we will be providing shuttles to all the developmental kindergarten (DK) students. The shuttle buses will come from each elementary school and back again in the afternoon. We will be providing color-coded tags for each group of students to help save confusion. These tags will correspond to the bus they ride. The ECSE students will have their own routes. It is our goal to keep as much consistency as possible for these tiny tots. They, too, will have their own color-coded tag. There will be additional shuttles for students attending special education programs within our district as we mainstream these students onto general education transportation. We will also be bringing back midday kindergarten routes every Friday. With all these additional transportation expectations, we quickly came to realize that there is limited time to complete these routes. To make all of these changes work with in the time frame allowed, we will be requiring many secondary (6-12) students to walk to a common bus stop. This will allow our many routes to remain on time throughout their morning schedule. Woodrow Wilson said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” I understand that many parents will have concerns about common bus stops. It is certainly not our goal to upset the apple cart. However, if we can work together, we can continue to serve all […]


August 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

SCHOOL BEAT Race For Healthy Kids on October 8  by LISA JACOBS Exective Director, Rockford Community Services and DAWN DAVIES Public Health Educator Kent County Health Department For the second year in a row, Rockford Community Services (RCS) and Rockford Public Schools (RPS) will have a wonderful opportunity to partner with the West Michigan Action for Healthy Kids (WMAFHK). WMAFHK is a nonprofit volunteer network fighting childhood obesity and undernourishment. WMAFHK works with schools and families to improve nutrition and physical activity to help our kids learn to eat right, be active every day and be ready to learn. The sponsors and members include Spectrum Health, Kellogg’s, Kent County Health Department, United Lifestyles, Kent County Sheriff’s Department, United Dairy Industry of Michigan and RPS. The partnership includes a 5k walk/run for adults, and a Fruity Fun Run just for kids. The race and course takes place at Rockford High School and the surrounding area on October 8, 2011. Proceeds from the race go directly to support WMAFHK. The nonprofit coalition works with schools to help kids learn to be healthy and active every day. The first-year proceeds will go directly to help Meadow Ridge and Roguewood elementary schools. WMAFHK will donate pedometers, water bottles, running shoes and free registrations for this year’s race to start the 2011-2012 school year moving! There is a $20 registration fee for the 5K walk/run event ($10 student rate) and a $5 fee for the Fruity Fun Run. Registration forms can be downloaded from Completed forms and registration fees can be done online, dropped off or mailed to Dawn Davies at the Kent County Health Department, 700 Fuller Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. If you are interested in becoming involved with WMAFHK or the network, please contact Dawn Davies at or Lisa Jacobs at Please register and help the WMAFHK support programs that encourage healthier kids, families and schools to get outside and be active!

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