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!
January is School Board Recognition Month, and Rockford Public Schools is joining 552 local and 57 intermediate school districts across the state to thank these community volunteers for their untiring dedication to public education. “Michiganders benefit every day from the dedicated energies and countless hours devoted by a group of more than 4,000 men and women across the state,” said Dr. Michael Shibler, Superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. “These public servants are elected by our community to serve, and receive little recognition for the difficult job that they do. They are dedicated individuals who are committed to the continuing success of our schools and students.” In a climate of change and challenge, school board members in Rockford develop policies and make tough decisions on complex educational and social issues that affect the entire community and impact individual students. They bear responsibility an oversight for an annual budget of $72 million, approximately 8,000 students, 900 employees and 17 buildings. “We proudly join educators and community members in saluting these education advocates as they provide vision and leadership for student achievement, academic programs, district funding and school facilities. Their service ensures that decisions about local public schools are made by those most familiar with the needs of our community’s children and families,” said Shibler. “They preserve the core of our democracy—public education.” Board members will be formally recognized at the January 10 Board of Education meeting at the Rockford Administration Building. The men and women currently serving on the Rockford Public Schools Board of Education (with first year elected) are: David M. Keller, president (2006); Laura L. Featherston, vice president (2006); Miles J. Postema, secretary (2004); Carol A. Hillman, treasurer (2003); and trustees Timothy J. Lewis (2010), Tamara J. Schollaart (1998), and Randall C. Sellhorn (1995).
School Beat Are schools political or practical? by RANDY SELLHORN, Trustee, Board of Education I have been a school board trustee for many years now. I have come to expect certain things at certain times of the year as we move through the activities of a school year. Kindergarten roundup, graduation, budget development, purchasing buses to replace worn vehicles, spring break, all of these events happen at a similar time each school year. Let me share with you what I expect from an election year. This being an election year and the start of spring drills for political football season is underway. Political football season comes every two years, when politicians select their “platform” to promote their election campaigns. I am certain at the top of the list of platform topics will be Michigan’s failing public schools and the cost of public school funding. They feel that bashing public schools is a winning play almost as certain to score votes as the wrap-around draw (a favorite play of Rockford football fans) is to score a touchdown. I would be foolish to claim that there are not public schools that deserve the reputation the politicians will describe, and equally foolish if I told you the current budget circumstances can be easily resolved. The politicians will claim that public schools fail to graduate the majority of the students that start school in the ninth grade; that the schools will not accept accountability for student performance, that they are economically inefficient, that they are attempting to overtax the residents, and schools are unwilling to change to correct these shortcomings. I want to demonstrate to you that they are not talking about Rockford Public Schools when they make their accusations. I am here to proclaim that Rockford Public Schools is an example of what is right about public school education. We have high expectations for our students and ourselves. We get extraordinary results from both. We graduate almost every student that starts the ninth grade in Rockford. Only 2.2% drop out; some of those are transfers to another school to complete their education. In addition, every graduate of Rockford High School since the class of 1995 is required to pass a reading and mathematics proficiency test to receive a diploma. […]