By BETH ALTENA Rockford Public School Superintendent Dr.Michael Shibler campaigned for renewal of Rockford’s school millage, in part on the importance of having the highest level of security possible for our students and staff, and on Monday, August 10, he and the members of the Board of Education saw in person what that millage money has purchased. Of the $76 million, $11 million was earmarked for security measures at school entrances, in part in response to the past nationwide school shootings. Like law enforcement, measures to provide a safe atmosphere at schools has changed to meet the changing types of threats nationwide. Restricting access to schools has been one way districts protect students and staff. The vestibules feature shatterproof glass, which can be shot at without shattering. Cameras, the buzz-in entry system and schools locked during the school day are all part of the improved security measures allowed by the passage of the 2014 millage. “We worked with the existing space, we didn’t create new space,” Shibler said. With the exception of East and West Middle School, the entryways to schools has been standardized, so one office matches the others. All now have a vestibule where visitors enter outside the office and buzz in to staff. Dr. Shibler called this a “people trap” designed to be the location of highest security. Staff can see the visitors on a monitor, which later will be upgraded to a larger screen, and can see the visitors on the screen as well as through a shatterproof glass door. Once allowed entry into the office, the visitors can then enter the school for the purpose of their visit. In case something happens after the person is in the building, each entryway features a red “panic button” that automatically triggers all outer doors in the district to immediately lock. Prior to the construction of new vestibules throughout the district, Dr. Shibler has said he worked closely with experts in school safety, including Homeland Security, to determine what measures best secure a safe atmosphere in a district. Restricting access, in many cases, would have prevented the tragedies our nation has seen in schools since the Columbine school shooting two decades ago. Owen Ames Kimball, under Project Manager Jeremy Amshey (who also lead […]
Rockford Public Schools
Once again for the 2015-2016 school year, Rockford Public Schools will use an electronic system for verification of student information. Parents will enter changes to demographic information by utilizing an electronic system by means of Family Access. In August, parents will receive an email outlining the steps to be taken to review and submit any changes to phone numbers and other relevant information. As we have the last few years, parents will be notified electronically of their child’s upcoming placement for the 2015-2016 school year. The placement notification will be sent electronically to all elementary families around the third week of August and will provide the name of your child’s teacher and room number for the upcoming school year. Due to regulations under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), we cannot provide the names of other students in your child’s class. Note: For families who do not have access to the internet, the computer lab at your child’s school will be open a couple of days prior to the start of school. We highly encourage all families to set up a Family Access account, as it is the district’s main source of communication to parents for progress reports, attendance, emails regarding building events, etc. Please visit our website at www.rockfordschools.org and click the Family Access link (upper right-hand side) and then click the Question and Answer link. The Frequently Asked Questions will pop up. “How do I get an account for Family Access?” (Question 4) is answered. Please feel free to contact the secretary in your child’s building for additional help in setting up a Family Access account. We appreciate your attention to this very important matter and look forward to seeing you in September to start another awesome school year! Dr. Doug VanderJagt Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources
Spring is finally here! Spring sports seasons are in full swing and the construction of the 2014 Bond projects is underway. We are excited to see the many months of planning come to fulfillment. Thank you to the community for your vision and support of the May 2014 bond issue. Starting April 1st, the first phase of the security vestibules/school entrances construction started at the following buildings: Belmont Elementary Crestwood Elementary Lakes Elementary Parkside Elementary Valley View Elementary Building staff have been extremely helpful and flexible as alternate arrangements for office space and entrances were arranged. Construction on the remaining buildings will commence the first week of summer break. We appreciate your patience during the last few weeks of school and for any inconveniences that may occur. Another component of the technology planning for the 2014 bond funds will be the installation of wireless capabilities “wall to wall” in all buildings this summer. Demand has increased both for instructional staff to have dependable access to instructional tools, as well as the reliability and support of connected student devices to the district’s network. The proposed project will provide connectivity for all staff members across the district and for every student to use a connected device on the network as a learning tool. Based on input from the community and our Transportation Department, a new service drive is also planned between the High School and Freshman Center. This will alleviate traffic entering/leaving from Kroes and will allow the buses to travel between both buildings without having to exit onto Kroes and re-enter the Freshman Center from Kroes. Since we will be “moving dirt” for that project, we combined the addition of a new turf field with the project. Construction will start the first week of summer break and will be completed by mid-August. The final project planned for the summer months will be tennis court improvements at East Rockford Middle School. Summer will be a busy construction season and we are looking forward to the many improvements of our facilities. It will be exciting when staff and students come back to school in the fall. Again, our sincere appreciation for your support. Mike Cuneo, Assistant Superintendent of Finance
The Rockford Women’s Water Polo team had great competition the last week of March. The first match of the week had the Rams playing the defending State Champions, Okemos High School. Okemos came into the match highly favored to win. Rockford, however, had no plans to make the night an easy victory. The Lady Rams played at the top of their game, with goals scored from Hannah Raymond, Anna Kennedy, and Lexi Chisholm. At the end of the 4th quarter, the game was tied at 7 all, forcing the match into overtime. Although the extra match play did not present Rockford with the victory, the experience gained against one of the top teams in the state, gave the Rams the opportunity to work on teamwork and strategy critical to the remainder of the season. The second match of the week was against Hudsonville. Always a great game against a very tough team, Hudsonville pulled out the win 14 to 12, but not before Rockford showcased the scoring talent of Hannah Raymond (7 Goals) and Lexi Chisholm (5 Goals). Next up for the Rams is the 7th Annual Purple Polo match with Zeeland High School benefiting Relay for Life. At Zeeland this year on Tuesday April 14th, proceeds from the evening’s donations, t-shirt sales and concessions will benefit Relay for Life events at both schools. Come support this great cause – Go Rams!
By BETH ALTENA Sale of contaminated half-acre of city property included Passionate, even tearful comments against approving a 51-unit condominium development were heard by Rockford Planning Commissioners on Thursday, March 26 before the board voted five to one to recommend Rockford City Council give the final go-ahead to the project. Developer Marcell Burger and two associates were present to answer questions The public comment session was almost entirely taken up by residents of the stretch of Monroe between Courtland and Lewis streets, although several non-residents spoke, both for and against the development. City attorney Dick Wendt was present, along with City Manager Michael Young, Clerk Chris Bedford and commissioners Tammy Bergstrom, Cliff Hill, Chair Jim Scales, Tom Sturr, Dave Rasmussen and Jon Minor. Young opened the meeting with a summary of the process of approving the Tamarack Run development, explaining what steps have been taken since the development plan was submitted to the city in October of 2014. He outlined the public meetings held since, including a two-and-a-half hour City Council meeting on February 9. Many of the same people who spoke at previous Council and Planning Commission meetings spoke at the Thursday meeting, voicing mostly the same objections to the development. New to the discussion was an explanation of steps necessary to sell to the developer a parcel of property belonging to the City within the boundaries of the development. Young said a piece of land approximately 212 feet by 100 feet was identified as city land, although it has been used as part of the former inhabitant Burch Body Works for over 100 years. The parcel, just under a half-acre, has been identified as including one of several contaminated areas on the entire seven-acre plat. As part of the development all contaminated lands will be removed and disposed of in an appropriate landfill at the developer’s expense. The Tamarack Run condominiums will occupy about half of the seven acres with wetlands on the other half being preserved. Burger spoke before the public comment session began and told commissioners that more room for snow removal had been added to the project by adding more space between homes. He said more parking had been added in response to residents’ concerns about parking on Monroe Street […]