Rockford Schools Bond

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, […]