Michael S. Shibler


September 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

SCHOOL BEAT Welcome to the 2011-12 school year!  by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools Rockford Public Schools I hope you have experienced a relaxing and pleasant summer. Even though the middle of July was excruciatingly hot, in my opinion it was far better than minus 10 degrees with snow blowing sideways. Those days will come soon enough. Thank you, Rockford Public Schools (RPS) employees! It is very important for me to recognize the teachers, support staff, and administrators of RPS. During contract negotiations this summer, our employees agreed to a two-year contract (2011-12 and 2012-13), which will impact each of them financially for the next several years. This landmark agreement will allow RPS to recall 9.5 of the 25 teachers the Board of Education had to lay off earlier this spring. Because our state lawmakers continue to allocate K-12 public education money as defined by Proposal A to higher education, public school districts across Michigan have been required to make serious cuts to their programs and staff. In general terms, I want the Rockford community to know what our teachers, support staff, and administrators have agreed to so that several of our laid-off teachers could be recalled. This includes: •            salary, wage and step freezes for the next two years—combined with the past two years, this will represent four years of salary and wage freezes by the end of the 2012-13 school year; •            significantly higher employee cost sharing of health insurance premiums; •            higher prescription co-pays; •            higher office visit co-pays and health insurance deductibles. The above contract terms represent only a few of the many cost-saving and cost-sharing components our employees have agreed to in order to help RPS remain financially stable. Since 1989, RPS’ ongoing philosophy of continuous improvement has been exemplified by our logo of “Quality Community, Quality Schools—Together Building a Tradition of Excellence.” Our most important resource is people. People make the difference in the success of our community and our schools. On July 1, 2011, I began my 23rd year as superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools. There is no better community or school system in the state of Michigan. Because I have had the privilege of serving the Rockford area community for such a long time, I […]


June 2, 2011 // 0 Comments

Closing Thoughts 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 […]

School Beat — December 17, 2009

December 17, 2009 // 0 Comments

The Good, the bad, the ugly by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools The Good—This fall, Rockford’s marching band took third place in the state in Division I competition. This is the strongest rating our marching band has ever earned in recent history. Congratulations! Several of our athletic teams won district and regional championships. Congratulations to Rockford’s boys water polo team, who won their seventh state title over the past 10 years. Their achievement was especially gratifying because the team was not considered a threat during tournament play. New classroom expansions, paid through the 2008 bond issue, at Cannonsburg, Lakes, Roguewood, and Valley View elementary schools are now ready for students. Planning continues for classroom additions to Belmont and Crestwood elementary schools. District-wide technology upgrades along with recreation and athletic field additions continue toward completion and within budget. Rockford’s academic and fine arts programs continue to exceed the high expectations established by staff, students and community. The successes our students experience in the classroom continue to validate Rockford’s outstanding academic programs. The Bad—Since the early 2000s, bi-partisan organizations such as the Citizens Research Council and University of Michigan economists, have been predicting that the current system to fund public education would soon be broken. Well, it’s almost 2010, and the system is on life support with barely a pulse. With the 1994 implementation of Proposal A, school districts currently receive two-thirds of their revenue through state sales and income taxes and one-third from property taxes. With Michigan’s high unemployment rate and significant downsizing of manufacturing, revenues from state sales and income taxes are below expectations, and revenue from property taxes are barely neutral, creating what is called a “structural deficit.” A structural deficit exists when revenues to fund essential services, such as police, fire and education, are less than required to maintain existing programs. Most experts will tell you that state government cannot “cut their way” out of a structural deficit and that new or expanded revenue resources must be created. Even in a severely stressed economy, Michigan lawmakers have the means to restructure the funding system for essential services. But the question still remains: “Does the will exist?” If Michigan’s current system to fund public education is broken because of the structural deficit, […]

School Beat – September 3, 2009

September 3, 2009 // 0 Comments

Three issues demand attention, time by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D.  Superintendent of Schools Rockford Public Schools With the passing of each year, the summer months seem to fly by faster than in previous years even though each day of each year has the same number of minutes and hours! It is hard to believe that I have the privilege of beginning my 21st year as superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools (RPS). Where did the first 20 years go? While I realize we have together accomplished many good things for RPS kids, I also realize we have many more yet to accomplish. This summer has been very busy with many issues demanding our attention and time. In this article, I want to touch on three of those issues: bond issue projects, financial challenges, and the district’s new website. Bond Issue Projects If you will recall, the 2008 bond issue was designed to accomplish three major projects: add four to eight classrooms to six of our eight elementary schools, update instructional technology in all schools, and add 20 recreational/athletic fields throughout the school district. Many of these projects are either in the planning stages or nearing completion. For example, additional classrooms at Cannonsburg, Lakes and Roguewood elementaries are well underway. New carpeting is being laid throughout the high school—believe it or not, the high school is over 16 years old! The tennis courts at North Rockford Middle School and the high school are being replaced, and construction of athletic fields at the high school, East Rockford Middle School and Roguewood Elementary are ahead of schedule. Upgrades in instructional technology will continue throughout the summer. Comprehensive improvements to Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium took place this summer, with the installation of a multi-purpose synthetic field for use by the marching band, along with football, lacrosse, track, and other student-athletes. The new technology in athletic fields is called Mondo turf, which utilizes an environmentally friendly, bio-degradable substance called Eco-fill. The rededication of “The Ted” is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 3, prior to the Rockford-Holt varsity football game. I hope you can attend. All other 2008 bond issue projects are in the planning or early development stages. Please refer to the district’s webpage at www.rockfordschools.org for ongoing progress reports. Financial Challenges […]

Rockford Relay to host landmark research project

April 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools What if you could personally participate in research to help determine factors that cause or prevent cancer? And what if your involvement ultimately leads to eliminating cancer as a major health problem for this and future generations? Would you do it? If your answer is yes, please consider participating in an unprecedented opportunity by enrolling in CPS-3 (Cancer Prevention Study-3) at this year’s Relay For Life in Rockford. Our Relay has been selected to enroll participants in the American Cancer Society’s third research study (the first study started back in 1950 and contributed to linking several factors such as cigarette smoking, obesity, and air pollution to cancer risk).  Enrollment in CPS-3 will take place on Friday, May 15, 2009 from 4 to 9 p.m., at the Rockford Relay For Life at North Rockford Middle School. To see if you are eligible to participate and what is involved, please go to www.cancer.org/cps3, or for more information please contact Kyle Cutler at kyle.cutler@cancer.org or 616-551-4035. Please join me, enroll in CPS-3 on May 15 If you are unable to participate in the study, please consider forwarding this to family and friends who may be willing to participate. Enrollees do not have to be on a Relay For Life team