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Guiding principles set, plans coming for 10-year facilities plan


The Rockford School Board tonight approved guiding principles that will update the district’s 10-year facilities plan. The principles support what the administration, community, staff and students find important when considering the future of Rockford Public Schools and its infrastructure. Among the key points:

  • Students should attend school close to where they live, and enrollment should be maximized from that school’s attendance zone.
  • The district has too many facilities, and too many schools that will be too costly to revamp or update into 21st Century learning environments, which is one of the district's overarching goals.
  • Elementary schools receive additional resources (grant money or staff allocations for example) while serving K-5 grades with three or four strands (the number of classes per grade level). All schools should have adequate resources to best serve students.

The principles were initially drafted by a Facilities Task Force Steering Committee, led by board members Jude Makulec and Michael Harner. The committee consists of administrators and community leaders and has worked with consultants from DLR Group. Over the past several months, DLR Group has collected input from teachers, students, parents and community members on what they think RPS schools should look like. That input helped shape these principles. Now those principles are shaping recommendations from the Facilities Task Force to the community.

The board will hear an update from the committee at its Strategic Planning meeting Saturday and will see proposed plans. Those plans will outline what the elementary school footprint could look like, and administrators are asking for input. Those plans include ways to upgrade schools – including ideas to build new schools, consolidate buildings and build additions – and also shrink the district’s footprint and offer all students both adequate and excellent resources.

"It shouldn’t matter where a child lives in the city – or which school he or she attends – the educational support that student receives should be uniform," said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. "It should be sufficient for the best possible outcomes for our kids."

The community is invited to dozens of community meetings in May; each elementary school will host an after-school meeting for staff, parents and the community to attend to hear about proposed plans and give feedback on the plans.

Additional meetings are scheduled for the community:

  • Tuesday, May 13: 7 p.m. at Rockford University (Regents Hall in Burpee Center), 5050 E. State St.
  • Thursday, May 15: 6:30 p.m. at Guilford High School, 5620 Spring Creek Rd.
  • Tuesday, May 20: 7 p.m. at the Administration Building, 501 7th St.

The Task Force will consider the community’s input before making a final recommendation to the full board in June, with a first reading June 10 and a vote June 24. No building changes will happen for the 2014-15 academic year. Any changes the board approves in June will not take place until the 2015-16 academic year or later.