School Beat


July 5, 2012 // 0 Comments

The Cost of Athletics by MIKE CUNEO Assistant Superintendent of Finance Rockford Public Schools  When we think of June, parents, students and staff are thinking about the end of the school year and making plans for a well-deserved summer break. June is, however, the time of year when we are planning the budget for the next school year and revising the current school year budget. The fiscal year of the school district is July 1 to June 30. As mandated by law, we are required to submit to the Board of Education for formal adoption the revised general fund budget of the 2011-12 school year and the proposed general fund budget for the 2012-13 school year. Preparation and planning of the general fund budget encompasses revenues received from state and federal sources and expenditures for the district’s instructional programs and support services, which include operations and maintenance, transportation, community services as well as the athletic program. One question that is often asked is, “What is the cost of athletics to the district?” During the 2011-12 school year, over 30 varsity sports were offered to students through the district’s athletic program with more than 2,600 secondary students participating. Revenue received from the various sports encompasses gate receipts, student fees for pay-to-participate and donations. The total revenue for the 2011-12 school year was $452,838. Expenditures for the athletic program include salaries for coaches, cost of officials and game staff, tournament fees and travel expenses, as well as equipment, supplies and uniforms. The total expenditures for the 2011-12 school year were $1,264,508. As you can see, the costs of the athletic program are higher than the revenues received. The difference of $811,670 is covered by a general fund subsidy. This amount equates to 1.1% of the total overall general fund budget of $70+ million. While the dollar amount may seem large as a percentage of the overall general fund budget, it is a very small percentage. As the Board of Education has implemented budget reductions over the last few years, all programs have been impacted, including athletics. With assistance from the Sports Boosters and community, the district has been able to minimize the impact of cuts to the program. Their generous donations and support have covered the cost […]


June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

Team Claire by BOB SIEGEL Principal, Valley View Elementary School When does a school become more than a building, and transform into a loving/learning community? Pondering this is analogous to the question: When does a house become a home? This past year the students, staff and parents at Valley View Elementary School came together like I’ve never witnessed before as an educator! Sometimes it takes a “cause” that forces young and old alike to think beyond themselves, and REALLY invest in someone else’s pain. When a family member is in crisis, brothers and sisters, moms and dads are supposed to step up and support each other. Valley View Elementary School did that this year! I met Claire as she was to begin kindergarten at Valley View five years ago. Her start to school was delayed due to a bout with cancer in her leg. I have watched this incredible child fight this disease like a heavyweight fighter! Ironically, Claire was the most quiet and unassuming child you’d ever meet. During the 24-Hour Relay, Luanne Helsen, Claire Kowroski’s teacher, organized a “Team Claire” campaign, complete with t-shirts for anyone who wanted to participate. Walking around the track that Friday night with Claire’s dad and hundreds of kids, parents and staff—the Valley View Family—was truly  uplifting! Ironically, as I began writing this piece, news of Claire’s passing came our way. Incredibly so, the focus of this piece, however, does not change. I can tell you this: Claire taught us more in her nine years of life than I’ve ever learned from ANYONE in my 54 years on this Earth. Her courage was beyond inspirational— she was a witness to overcoming any pain and suffering that could be handed out, and taught us all how to live gracefully through hardship. One wonders why a young child would be taken from our midst. Though our mortal minds cannot grasp some of these profound questions, I do believe that everything happens for a reason. The entire Valley View Family has been blessed to have lived with Claire and mom Kathleen, dad Brad and little sister Izzy in our Valley View “home.” Our school will never be the same without Claire in our midst, and yet her life has left a […]


May 31, 2012 // 0 Comments

Teen drivers by CHARLIE BROWN Director of Security Rockford Public Schools “Your son or daughter has been killed in a car accident.” These are words that will change your life forever (“The Problem”). If you want the cold hard truth, look no further. Did you know that about 3,500 teens die per year in car crashes and tons of thousands are injured? That’s the equivalent of an airplane full of teens crashing every other week. If you aren’t careful, you too could become a statistic. Learn more about the major dangers for teens: • driving at night • speeding and street racing • distractions • not wearing a seatbelt • driving under the influence The single biggest risk factor is driving at night. In 2009, 61 percent of teen crash deaths occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. As reported by a 2010 study by Texas Transportation Institute, this is primarily due to a combination of the visibility challenges caused by dark conditions, slower response time brought about by fatigue, and a lack of experience driving under such conditions. It is largely for these reasons that most states include a nighttime driving restriction in Graduated Driver License (GDL) laws. In most states with a GDL law, the nighttime restriction and a limit on the number of passengers allowed are the most widely implemented features of that law. The problem of visibility: The average person’s field of vision is smaller without the aid of light, and glare from oncoming headlights can further limit the ability to see clearly and avoid hazards. High Intensity lights are becoming more common. These lights are brighter than oncoming headlights and can further limit the ability to see. The National Safety Council says that dusk is the most dangerous time, since your eyes constantly have to adjust to more darkness. If an oncoming vehicle’s lights are too high, avoid glare by watching the right edge of the road and using it as a steering guide. During my career with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, it seemed many drunk drivers failed to dim their lights—beware! The problem of drowsy driving: Being awake for 20 hours has the same affect as being legally drunk! Research suggests that teens should have 9 to 10 […]


May 24, 2012 // 0 Comments

by JACQUIE FASE Director of Transportation Rockford Public Schools “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” —Dr. Seuss As the scholarly Dr. Seuss once said, “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!” I see this mantra embedded in the “Rockford Ram Culture” through its inspiring teachers, motivational administrators, and through all the great staff members, parents, coaches and volunteers. The transportation department believes in obtaining this level of positivity and enthusiasm as well, because each department is an essential aspect of the greater Rockford Public Schools (RPS) family. As we prepare for yet another school year, I can’t help but reflect on how quickly technology changes to enable us to share correct information. Over the years we have traversed various avenues on our quest to inform district families of their bussing schedules. The one roadblock we encounter each year is publishing information that will remain current beyond the printing deadline. This year the student population will be able to access their bussing information through the RPS family access website. We will not be sending out the yearly transportation postcards. Through trial and error we have learned that from the time these cards are printed and sent, to the first day of school, our routes will change daily. These changes could be very minor to a complete rewrite of entire routes. The changes might be due to students moving in or out of a neighborhood (or district) to simply a change in the bus number. Unexpected changes can cause major stress among parents and district staff on the first day of school. By logging into your family access account and viewing the live data, you will be well informed of any change to your students’ bussing schedule. As always, if there is ever a question or concern, I would encourage you to call the transportation department at (616) 863-6328. We are currently in the process of updating the routes for the 2012-2013 school year. All students are routed to and from their home address unless we have information concerning daycare or non-custodial parent […]


May 17, 2012 // 0 Comments

The Rockford Leo Club by LION MIKE WESTGATE Assistant Principal Rockford Freshman Center Lions Clubs International is the world’s premier community service organization, with over 1.3 million members around the world dedicated to helping people in need. Leo clubs are part of the Lions international network with over 5,500 Leo clubs in more than 130 nations. The Rockford Lions Club is proud to sponsor our new Leo club. On February 29, 2012, over 100 students from North and East Rockford middle schools, the Rockford Freshman Center and high school were officially inducted at a ceremony in the Rockford High School auditorium. It was an impressive ceremony with esteemed speakers including Dr. Mike Shibler, superintendent of Rockford Public Schools, Lion Rock Wood, the vice district governor, Lion Ken Frary, the district governor, and Lion Dr. Gary Anderson, the Lions Club International director. It is the largest Leo club ever chartered in the state of Michigan. The Rockford Leo club will be a service-minded organization that will provide assistance to the Rockford schools and community and give its members a global identity. The Leo club motto, “Leadership, Experience, Opportunity,” says it all. Leos develop skills as project organizers, time managers and team leaders. They discover how teamwork and cooperation can bring exciting changes to the community. And most importantly, Leos make friends and feel the rewards of community service. Several Rockford Public Schools administrators are Lions and serve as advisors and mentors to the Leo club students in their buildings. The Leos have already been involved with many positive service projects such as: •            planted over 200 trees on school grounds; •            volunteered with seniors at Bishop Hills Elder Care; •            donations/toy drive for Toys for Tots; •            raised funds for Thirsting to Serve and Kids Food Basket; •            volunteered in third-grade classrooms at Meadow Ridge; •            cleaning up Rockford’s oldest cemetery, Pioneer Cemetery. Future community projects include working at the Start of Summer Celebration, the Farmer’s Market and helping to reclaim the old Rum Creek Mill Pond skating rink. If you or your teenager are interested in getting involved in an outstanding organization, please contact your building assistant principal.

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