RPS’s Mike Cuneo offers breakdown on millage spending It may look as though the lion’s share of $45.8 million in remodeling for Rockford’s schools went to athletic fields, but that could not be further from the truth, stated Mike Cuneo, Director of Finance at Rockford Public Schools. Cuneo said improvements to athletic fields throughout the district are easy to see, while improvements in the school and to the buildings themselves may be less obvious to the public. He shared this information Thursday, November 5 at the Rockford Historical Society meeting. Cuneo said building improvements took up 70 percent of the money slated for the building fund that voters approved in May of 2008. The vote, just as this November’s was, was a renewal that did not increase taxes. According to Cuneo, technology improvements took up 17 percent and the athletic field improvements constituted only 13 percent of the spending. “We cannot use any of this money for operations,” he reiterated. Some have questioned updating technology and buildings at a time when the school faces dire cuts from state funding. “There is a building fund and there is an operation fund,” Cuneo said. “It is two different monies that cannot be co-mingled.” For technology, much of the money was used to put projectors in every classroom. On the elementary schools, classrooms were added to bring students out of mobile classrooms outside schools. “With as many schools as possible we have tried to increase parking,” Cuneo said. Cuneo received a bit of a grilling over the question of a second high school. He explained that Rockford could likely build a second high school, but there isn’t money to operate a second high school in the district. Rockford’s Superintendent Michael Shibler has also addressed this issue in the past, pointing out that the high school seems huge, but is actually not at capacity, where many elementary schools in the district are over capacity. Cuneo told the audience that it costs $3 million to operate a high school annually.
November 11 2009
What if normal was weird? That was the question asked by Valley View fifth graders during a recent school assembly. Mr. Derksen’s class put on a fabulous play written by one of the parents and led by student teacher Brad Ingersoll. The performers showed the entire school what it would feel like to be different, inspiring the kids to remember, “We’re all the same where it matters… on the inside.” Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was forced outside of his comfort zone for this project, yet felt the kids did an amazing job. School principal Bob Siegel spoke before and after the skit, reminding students of their social contract and requirement to treat others as they want to be treated themselves. Overall it was a good reminder that it is our differences that make us special. Good job Mr. Derksen’s class.
As a new twist to school PTA fundraisers, the students at Crestwood Elementary participated in the school’s first Rockin’ Walkin’ Pregame Bash at North Rockford Middle School on October 2. Over $14,000 was raised by the students through pledges they received and food and activity fees. “The Crestwood PTA wanted to try a different approach to fundraising this year,” according to organizer Lorrie Haney. “Our goal was to have only one fundraiser for the school, to make it fun, and to have all the proceeds go to Crestwood. A walk-a-thon seemed the perfect solution.” Each grade took a turn at walking around the gym track for 20 minutes. The Rockford Ram mascot was on hand to encourage the students in their efforts. Walkers were also greeted by cheers from a group of junior cheerleaders from Crestwood, and emcee for the evening was fourth-grade teacher Mr. Fowle. While waiting for their turn to walk, students enjoyed the carnival-type atmosphere by playing in bounce houses, participating in face-painting and tattoos, and enjoying fun foods. A highlight of the night was a massive game of dodgeball with the students against fifth-grade teacher Mr. Karel, gym teacher Mr. Tucker, and school principal Mr. Hoogerland. “The Crestwood families are so supportive and involved with the school, and the support from the Crestwood staff is amazing,” said Haney. “We walked and celebrated our success at the Rockin’ Walkin’ Pregame Bash. The fundraiser turned out to be very fun and successful.”
Cameron “Blake” Warne, known professionally as Cameron Blake, is working harder than ever and has a new album to show for it. The 2001 Rockford High School alumni is remembered for many things, including being a classical violin whiz kid, pioneering a campaign for a strings program in Rockford’s school system, winning concerto competitions held by the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and the GVSU Symphony Orchestra, and going on to receive his master’s degree in performance at the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore, Md. Now 27 years old, Warne hasn’t left Baltimore, but he has released his second album of ornate, chamber folk/pop songs in exactly one year. Warne’s new release, En Route, is a confident, mature album that displays a songwriter willing to take risks by stretching genre lines and delivering lyrics that could be found in a future edition of the Norton Anthology of Verse (example: “…your painted lips turned ivory, your fingernails like diamonds as they claw to be fed,” from “The Love Song Never Died”). The album’s single, “On My Way to Jordan,” has already created a buzz, receiving first place in folk on www.ourstage.com for June 2009. “I’ve heard it said that ‘the album’ is the new symphony and I believe it! I have a few more gray hairs on my head to show for it!” said Warne in a recent phone interview. Coordinating the schedules of 13 musicians from the Peabody Institute and the Baltimore Symphony—including French horn, oboe, mandolin, violin, cello and pedal steel guitar, in addition to a standard five-piece rock band setup—and recording in five separate locations would be enough to make most people’s heads spin, but Warne came out of the process ready to hit the stage. “I was getting antsy! It’s like writing a thesis in science and then never having your results tested in the real world. The importance of these songs is how they hold up with audiences night after night,” commented Warne. Warne normally sits behind a piano or guitar and sings these days, leaving his violin at home, but his ability to rearrange his songs for different instruments keeps audiences coming back for more. “I had to carve out my niche in the Baltimore music scene or […]
Bowser Brett Bowser, age 42, of Rockford passed away on Tuesday, November 3, 2009, following a courageous battle with lung cancer. Brett was the middle of the Bowser triplets and grew up in Rockford on his parents’ farm. He and his brothers worked together on the farm, which later became a tree farm. In 1986 he graduated from Rockford High School. While in high school, Brett worked for Carter Lumber, and he continued to work there for 10 years, where he was the yard foreman. Brett went on to work for Vltra Shapes and finally at Vector Distribution. He loved the outdoors, fishing, snowboarding, golfing, or just relaxing in the sun, but most importantly spending time with family. Brett dated Mistie Marie Watson in the early ‘90s, but after a year of being together they went their separate ways, only to meet again 13 years later. They rekindled their love, married, and became the best soul mates, sharing the responsibilities of marriage and a blended family. Mistie was the love of Brett’s life, as he was hers. He taught their children the importance of school, proper manners, and encouraged them to be the best they could be. In leisure time, Brett loved a good game of golf, playing with his children, spending time with family, being outside, watching auto racing, and a good football, golf or hockey game. He was preceded in death by his mother, Susan, on October 28, 2004, and his grandfathers, Edwin Bowser and James Walton. Brett is survived by his loving wife, Mistie (Watson); children, Elizabeth, Emily, Cameron and Myla; father, Edwin Bowser III (Jeanne); brother, Aron (Becky) Bowser of Belmont; brother, Cory Bowser of Grand Rapids; sister, Heidi (David) Bird of Holt; grandmothers, Mrs. Mildred Bowser and Mrs. Doris Walton; Mistie’s family: parents, Gary and Patty Peterson; sister, Joey (Matt) Hooker; nieces and nephews, Kendall, Kalynn, and Kyla Bird, and Jacob and Madison Hooker. The service for Brett was Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Courtland-Oakfield Methodist Church with Pastor Jeff Williams officiating. Interment was in Courtland Township Cemetery. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider the Elizabeth Bowser Education Fund at Fifth Third Bank. Arrangements were made by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.