Rockford Public Schools officials have identified the sites to build two elementary schools. Preliminary construction will begin this fall, and both schools will be open for the start of the 2018-19 school year. The site selection is pending land acquisition and an intergovernmental agreement with the Rockford School Board, City of Rockford, Winnebago County, Rockford Park District and Village of Cherry Valley:
New School No. 1 will consolidate students in Kishwaukee and Nelson elementary schools and be located in the ORCHiD neighborhood.
Location: South of Kishwaukee Elementary School at the corner of Union Street and Kishwaukee Street.
Estimated cost: $21.5 million
Information about the site: District leaders worked with representatives from ORCHiD neighborhood and city officials to finalize the new school location. Choosing this site means the new school will be part of a Purpose Built Community– a nationally acclaimed model with a goal to revitalize the community, specifically in the area just south of downtown Rockford. Purpose Built leaders and local agencies aim to bring high-quality housing, education and wellness to the neighborhood. A new school will provide a key component to that plan. The City of Rockford and Winnebago County have signed on to support the Purpose Built plan, each pledging $200,000 a year for three years – a $600,000 commitment each. That money will be used to expand the school’s footprint and remove blight in the neighborhood.
New School No. 2 will consolidate students in Cherry Valley, Thompson and White Swan elementary schools.
Location: Between Swanson Parkway and Perryville Road, south of Harrison Avenue. Access to the school will be off Perryville Road in Cherry Valley.
Estimated cost: $20.6 million
Information about the site: District leaders worked with Cherry Valley village leaders to select the site, which is centrally located within the attendance zone. It also offers the opportunity to continue a Rockford Park District partnership and potential park development nearby. “The Village of Cherry Valley welcomes the addition of a new elementary school in Cherry Valley to serve the residents on the southeast side of Winnebago County,” said Village President Jim Claeyssen. “We are poised to move forward in partnership with the Rockford Public Schools toward a successful project. We are looking forward to helping to get this project started by hosting an Open House at Village Hall so all area residents can attend and see for themselves the plans for this new elementary school.”
The community is invited to two meetings next week to learn more about the plans:
- 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 26: ORCHiD neighborhood/community meeting at Jane Addams Community Center, 502 Seminary St.
- 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28: Open House at Cherry Valley Village Hall, 806 E. State St., Cherry Valley.
Construction work will be awarded this fall. The Rockford School Board hired architecture firm CannonDesign in February to design the two schools. They have identical designs of 84,000 square feet each, although the buildings may differ in brick, paint or flooring. Each will have four strands (four first grade classrooms, four second grade classrooms, etc.).
The School Board voted in December to build two elementary schools, part of the district’s 10-year facilities plan to upgrade RPS 205 buildings and make the district’s footprint smaller and more efficient.
Cherry Valley, White Swan, Thompson, Nelson and Kishwaukee schools will all close after the 2017-18 school year. A subcommittee of the School Board will evaluate each site and work with the community to decide if the closed buildings will be best repurposed or torn down for green space or a park, for example.