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New Elementary School Named for First Black Teacher in RPS 205

3/13/2018

​​​​​A new elementary school in the city’s ORCHiD neighborhood will be named for Constance Renick Lane. She was the district’s first black teacher and served as an educator and administrator for more than 30 years. Lane retired as assistant superintendent for elementary education in 1985. She died in 2000. The School Board voted tonight to name the new K-5 elementary school Constance Lane Elementary School. The school will serve students who live in Kishwaukee, Nelson and a portion of the Beyer elementary school zones when it opens for the 2019-20 school year. Kishwaukee and Nelson will close after the 2018-19 school year.

The 86,000 square-foot K-5 school will cost $17.7M to build and will have four strands (four kindergarten classrooms, four first grade classrooms, etc.). Construction began in the fall.

This is one of two new schools under construction in RPS 205: Cherry Valley Elementary School, named for the Village of Cherry Valley, will open at the start of the 2018-19 school year. It will replace the existing Cherry Valley, White Swan and Thompson elementary schools. These new elementary schools mark the first new school construction in RPS 205 since 1998.

The School Board and Administration asked for community feedback​ in November to name two elementary schools under construction. According to Board Policy, a petition with at least 50 signatures must accompany a recommended name for a new facility. Six petitions were submitted with five recommendations:

  • Constance Renick Lane, "The first black teacher hired by the Rockford School District served students of the public school system as an educator and administrator for more than three decades. She retired as assistant superintendent for elementary education in 1985."
  • Jane Addams; Jane Addams Elementary School, Nobel Peace Prize winner, considered the mother of social work, Rockford University (Rockford Female Seminary) graduate, peace advocate.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, civil rights leader and social activist.
  • Cherry Valley School, named for the Village of Cherry Valley.
  • Leonard B. Keller Elementary, a former Cherry Valley resident, Guilford High School graduate and U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War who received the Medal of Honor.

The district's naming committee – made up of principals, administrators, community members and School Board members – met multiple times and heard community feedback at two public meetings before making its recommendation.​