Rockford Public Schools will break ground this week at the site of a new school to replace the existing Cherry Valley, White Swan and Thompson elementary schools. The community is invited to join district officials, School Board members, students and local dignitaries for a ceremonial groundbreaking at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 7. This marks the first new school construction in RPS 205 since 1998.
"We made a promise several years ago to upgrade our schools and ensure teaching and learning happens in 21st Century learning environments. We've completed additions and renovations at several schools. Finally we're making good on our promise to build new schools to best serve our students, staff and community," said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett.
The 86,000 square-foot school will serve students in the Cherry Valley/White Swan and Thompson elementary school attendance zones. The current Cherry Valley Elementary School will be demolished and become property of the Village of Cherry Valley through an intergovernmental agreement. White Swan and Thompson elementary schools will also be demolished and become property of the Rockford Park District through an intergovernmental agreement. The new school will have four strands (four first grade classrooms, four second grade classrooms, four third grade classrooms, etc.). It's expected to be ready for students for the start of the 2018-19 school year.
Construction work was awarded in February to Cord Construction for $15.7 million. The School Board hired CannonDesign in February 2016 to design two elementary schools. Construction details are pending on a school to replace Nelson and Kishwaukee elementary schools. Officials identified the locations to build the schools in July 2016. The new school in Cherry Valley will be between Swanson Parkway and Perryville Road, south of Harrison Avenue. Access to the school will be off Perryville Road in Cherry Valley.
Background: Building new schools is a major component of the district's 10-year facilities plan. A referendum in November 2012 received support from 65 percent of voters to sell $139 million in bonds for construction. Approval kickstarted the district's largest, most comprehensive building renovation and improvement plan. In August 2014, the School Board approved a modified facilities plan – based on in-depth analysis and community input – that included closing eight schools, building two schools and 13 additions. In November 2014, a second referendum received support from 74 percent of voters, giving the School Board permission to use tax dollars and bond money to build one or more new schools. Plans were already in the works for additions and major renovations, but voter approval was needed for new construction. The School Board ultimately voted in December 2015 to continue with the board-approved 10-year facilities plan and include construction of two elementary schools.
About the groundbreaking: Guests should enter the job site off Perryville Road. Heading south on Perryville, pass Harrison Road. The job site is on the west side of the road; look for construction equipment. There is a gravel road off Perryville – follow that road to a gravel parking lot and look for RPS 205 signs.