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 […]
Michael S. Shibler Ph.D.
SCHOOL BEAT Rockford Public Schools state funding: past, present, future by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools Rockford Public Schools During the past several months, I have been asked by many parents and Rockford Public Schools (RPS) employees to clarify what the “real” state revenue cuts to our schools were as compared to what they are being told by state lawmakers. Governor Snyder and some of our legislators have been proclaiming that public schools have only experienced a 1.4% cut in state funding. If that were the case, I would not be writing this clarification. I ask that you read the information below and decide for yourself. 1. During the 2008-09 school year, RPS received $7,316 per child from the State in the form of a foundation allowance. 2. Prior to the end of June 2011, the governor and state legislature agreed to cut our funding $470 per child. That would bring RPS’ state funding per child to $6,846. However, the final 2011-12 School Aid Bill passed by the legislature and signed by the governor added back $200 per child on a ONE-TIME basis if we qualified, which we do. Therefore, our 2011-12 state foundation allowance per child is $7,046 ($7,316 – $470 + $200). That represents a $270 cut in funding per child. If my math is correct, that is a 3.69% reduction in state funding, not 1.4%. 3. Beginning July 1, 2012, the state funding reduction per child continues according to the June 2011 School Aid Bill passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. The $200 one-time add-on disappears, and RPS’ 2012-13 funding drops back to $6,846 per child. That represents another 2.9% reduction in state funding. Again, if my math is correct, Rockford’s state funding per child in 2012-13 will drop 6.42% since the 2010-11 school year ($7,316 – $470 = $6,846). 4. Why is this happening? Since 1994, after Proposal A was passed by Michigan voters and legislated, revenue raised by Proposal A went into the School Aid Fund (SAF) to fund K-12 public school districts and public charter schools, as was the intent of the authors of Proposal A—not to higher education. Beginning with the 2010-11 school year, the governor and state legislature began allocating revenues collected […]
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 […]