MacGregor votes to save Michigan teacher retirement plan

July 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

Reforms will save area districts nearly $9.3 million by 2014 The Michigan House recently approved legislation to save the state’s teacher retirement system, saving almost $16 billion for Michigan taxpayers and allowing more money into the classroom to benefit students, state Rep. Peter MacGregor announced. Senate Bill 1040 reforms the Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System (MPSERS) Act to eliminate almost $16 billion in long-term pension and health care liability for Michigan’s public schools. “Today’s vote to reform the MPSERS system was crucial to making sure that teachers’ pensions and health care exist in the future,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Without these reforms, the unfunded liabilities that currently exist in the system would have continued to limit education funding from getting to the classroom where it belongs. The current system is unsustainable and without action would have continued piling billions of dollars of debt onto our children and grandchildren.” MPSERS is a statewide public employee defined benefit plan. The plan has debts that currently total more than $45 billion, which schools must eventually pay. Before 1994, schools paid a flat 5 percent of their payroll into the retirement system. Now, because of the growing debt and the need to pay retiring educators, schools are paying 27 percent, and their payments are expected to jump as high as 35 percent. The House plan will eventually take this rate back down to 5 percent. Under the reform plan, public school employees hired on or after August 1, 2012, would have the option to receive an existing hybrid defined-benefit, defined-contribution plan or a straight defined contribution (401k) account. Employees hired on or after August 1, 2012 would no longer receive defined retirement health care but would receive matching employer contributions up to 2 percent of compensation deposited into a 401k-type account. “These commonsense changes were absolutely necessary to keep our schools from falling further behind while also saving the retirement system so that Michigan educators can still have high-quality retirement options in the future,” MacGregor said. “These reforms give schools the ability to put the focus back on educating Michigan children while still giving teachers options for retirement and protecting the pensions that teachers have already earned.” Under these reforms, each of the districts within the 73rd House District […]

ERMS recognized as ‘No Place for Hate’

July 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools Rockford Public Schools Spurred by the work of the Rockford Public Schools anti-bullying committee, East Rockford Middle School (ERMS) began the 2011-12 school year seeking to become a “No Place for Hate” school. No Place for Hate is an initiative of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which provides support to schools as they work to celebrate diversity and improve a culture of respect. The process to become a No Place for Hate school involves the establishment of a coalition that plans and executes a minimum of three activities to promote acceptance and tolerance. Another requirement is signing the “Resolution of Respect,” in which students indicate their desire to treat others well and their intent to report bullying. The coalition at ERMS consists of staff members and parents, who solicited input from students in planning activities. This year’s qualifying activities included a “Mix It Up at Lunch Day,” “Be Nice Day,” and “Celebrate Diversity Day.”  For “Mix It Up at Lunch,” the cafeteria was rearranged and decorated, and students were creatively assigned to tables. Student leaders sat at each table to facilitate discussion among the students and everyone received ice cream to celebrate. On “Be Nice Day,” all staff members and Teen Leadership students wore shirts that read “Be nice” and welcomed students with candy, high fives and handshakes. To celebrate diversity, sixth- and seventh-graders watched the movie “Remember the Titans” and participated in follow-up discussion and activities in their homeroom classes. ERMS and the No Place for Hate coalition have organized other activities to combat bullying and celebrate respect, and will continue the process by including an educational assembly about cyber-bullying, allowing students to nominate and recognize their classmates for acts of kindness, decorating the halls with smiley faces and positive messages, having students sign the “Resolution of Respect” banner, giving students bracelets that read “No Place for Hate,” and discouraging the use of defamatory terms. The school was also recognized as a model school by the organization Teaching Tolerance for its organization of “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” in October 2011. ERMS plans to continue to build and improve the programs to eliminate bullying and encourage diversity, acceptance and tolerance of one another, allowing students to […]


July 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

SCHOOL BEAT A Foundation for Motivation by ADAM BURKHOLDER Assistant Principal Rockford High School Motivating students, increasing self-esteem, and assisting in the building of a foundation for successful individuals are endeavors, or achievements, I take pride in as a professional and as a parent. Striving to always be better, I am continuously looking for ways to improve who I am and what I am doing for students and my children alike. My constant pursuit led me to a book I’ve completed for the second time. The book is titled “Mindset,” and the main idea presented is to acknowledge the effort your students and children put into something rather than stating how good, how smart, how talented they may be. Author Carol Dweck has devoted her career to the psychology behind the success of individuals. Focusing on how an individual can grow what they are naturally good at is at the forefront of her research. Her ideas challenged me to look at how I receive feedback/constructive criticism, how I give it, and how I can further benefit from feedback and results in general. Dweck provides examples to the reader of different individuals who have characterized both forms of mindset. John McEnroe is a prime example of someone who embodies the fixed mindset. When things were going well on the court, he and his talents were responsible for his success, but when he was losing it was his opponent’s fault, the referee’s fault, the weather conditions, the fans, or his trainer. The bottom line is that it was never his fault that he wasn’t succeeding. On the other end of the spectrum is Jackie Joyner Kersee. She is one of the most celebrated Olympic athletes in having earned a total of six Olympic medals in three different events, three of which were gold, one silver, and two bronze. Of these accomplishments, personally she is most proud of her bronze medal earned at the age 34 while competing in the long jump competition. More work went into earning that bronze medal than any of those she had previously won. This exemplifies the growth mindset. A brief overview of the book “Mindset” can be found at and a portion of it has been provided below: “In a fixed […]

Spring 2012 OU honor roll announced

July 5, 2012 // 0 Comments

Students from 45 states and the District of Columbia are listed on the University of Oklahoma (OU) Norman campus honor roll for the spring 2012 semester. In most colleges, students must earn a minimum 3.5 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale to be included on the honor roll. Students in the College of Architecture are recognized with a 3.3 or better, and students in the College of Engineering are recognized with a 3.0 or better. Rebekah Loraine Richmond of Rockford is enrolled full time in at least 12 credit hours. She earned a 4.0 (A) grade-point average and is on the President Honor Roll.

Hall of Fame class of 2012 inductees announced

July 5, 2012 // 0 Comments

The Rockford Public Schools (RPS) Hall of Fame Advisory Council recently announced its class of inductees. The Hall of Fame class of 2012 will be honored at a special induction ceremony and dinner September 29, and their names will be engraved on a permanent monument that is installed on the grounds of Rockford High School. There is an entire weekend of activities planned for the inductees. On Friday, Sept. 28 they will be speaking to students in classrooms across the Rockford school district. Friday evening they will be introduced to the community at the Rockford Rams versus West Ottawa football game. The weekend will culminate on Sunday, Sept. 30 with a brunch held by the Rockford Lions Club. The RPS Hall of Fame was created by RPS and Rockford Education Foundation (REF) to recognize those individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievements in their chosen field or who have made significant contributions to RPS and/or the Rockford community. The Hall of Fame dinner will also serve as a fundraiser for the REF, which awards grants that enrich the educational experience in the Rockford community. Jamie Hosford, RPS assistant superintendent of human resources, will be the honorary chairperson for the event. Information about the event and tickets will be available at “It is amazing to see the growth of the Hall of Fame,” commented Lisa Jacobs, director of Community Services RPS and Hall of Fame committee member. “We are stretching beyond our community of Rockford to bring home alumni. Our inductees have gone out into the world to pursue their goals and I am pleased we are able to have them come back and interact with our student body.” There are four different categories for which individual can be nominated. Cameron B. Warne, RHS 2001, violinist, will be inducted in the Cultural and Performing Arts category. In the category of Academic/Career Accomplishment, there are three inductees:  Dathan Ritzenhein, RHS 2001, professional runner; Matthew Turk, PhD, RHS 1999, astrophysicist; Ginger “Zee” Zuidgeest, RHS 1999, meteorologist, “Good Morning America.” Victor Krause, RHS 1953, former member House of Representatives, Michigan, will be inducted under the category of Service to the Rockford Community. In the category of Honorary Achievement—Contributions to the Rockford Public Schools, three people are going to be […]

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