Rockford Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Carl Stites

Local leaders report on state of community

December 29, 2011 // 0 Comments

Providing more with less, looking to the future a common thread by BETH ALTENA  Representatives from the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, schools, City of Rockford, Kent County, the State House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate spoke Monday, Dec. 12, at Rockford High School, presenting a variety of opinions about the state of our community. A common theme of looking ahead to face challenges of our state and country as well as accomplishments achieved seemed to run through the discussions. Rockford’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Shibler spoke first, describing the district’s work on long- and short-term goals. He explained that in his early years with Rockford, he helped establish a Ram Action Model for Success (RAMS), now in its eighth cycle of three-year comprehensive plans. He said each RAMS plan takes into account the opinions of residents across the demographic spectrum—from empty-nesters, business people, seniors, parents of school-age children, etc.—who took surveys, including answering questions and providing narratives. Shibler said the district began the process in 1989 because the school leadership felt it was important for the community to decide what is important to the district. He said despite increasing financial challenges, the RAMS has helped the district complete 96 to 97 percent of the identified goals. He pointed out that Rockford Public Schools is a base-foundation district—among those schools in Michigan who receive the lowest level of funding per student. Today, he said, Rockford receives $7,046 per student, compared to $7,300 per student the district annually received in 2008. He said in 2012, cuts may bring the per-student funding for the district to $6,846. Despite continued lower finances, Shibler reported that Rockford is fortunate to have “a performance school district.” Rockford and East Grand Rapids are the only two districts in Kent County to have all schools receive As in state evaluation, and the only large district in the state of Michigan to receive the all-A recognition. In 1994 Rockford became the only school in the state to offer a guaranteed diploma—students who fail to be successful in jobs that require high-school level skills can return to receive additional education at no charge. This year, 50 juniors received a 30 or higher on their ACT tests, and the Rockford marching band earned the […]