Rockford Public Schools will host a ceremonial groundbreaking next week where a new school is under construction in the ORCHiD neighborhood. The school will serve students who live in Kishwaukee, Nelson and a portion of the Beyer elementary school zones. The community is invited to join district officials, School Board members, students and local dignitaries for a ceremonial groundbreaking at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15. Guests should park on South Third Street, near Catlin Street. The construction site is across from Kishwaukee Elementary School; enter from Gregory Street off Kishwaukee Street.
“This is our second groundbreaking this year, and I’m thrilled we’re making good on our promise to build new schools to best serve our students, staff and community. They all deserve it,” said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. The district celebrated a groundbreaking in June at the new school replacing Cherry Valley, White Swan and Thompson elementary schools. These schools mark the first new school construction in RPS 205 since 1998.
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.). It's expected to be ready for students at the start of the 2019-20 school year.
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.