Rockford School District spending, Waste of Money or Good Idea

When I first read this article presented by one of our local channels, WREX, I thought that I had misread it and had to read it again.  After reading it several more times, I was still overwhelmed by a sense of “what the heck” and then it occurred to me that maybe they had more information than this article provided.  Maybe they did know what they were doing and even if it appears like a severe waste of money, the information that was not published in this article made the decision sound.

The article reported that “the Rockford Public School Board has approved a plan that will drastically change the district. The approved 10-year facilities plan includes closing eight elementary schools, building two new ones and adding on to 13 schools. The plan is expected to cost $250 million.  "I am confident that moving forward will be able to execute a facilities plan that is one that best serves our students," said Dr. Ehren Jarrett, Superintendent of RPS 205.  Approved amendments to a previously introduced plan include:  Naming or re-naming the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, Presenting a budget to the board for new classroom furniture for all of the district's schools, Identifying funds to complete additional deferred maintenance, as identified in the facilities plan, Presenting a budget and making recommendations to the board for the demolition or disposal of any buildings not covered by the facilities plan that are owned by the district and for which the administration determined the district has no expected use within the foreseeable future and Continuing to explore ways to air condition school buildings in the district that do not have central air conditioning and to explore ways to add air conditioning to those schools.  New schools will be built to consolidate Kishwaukee and Nelson into one building, and Thompson, White Swan and Cherry Valley into a second new building.  Sites for new buildings have not been announced yet.

It first struck me as a waste of money because if you already have schools that you wish to close, why not extend or rehab those instead of building brand new ones?  It appears to me to cost much less to rehab than to build brand new.  The second thing was the new furniture concept.  What is it about new furniture that you cannot do with the old?  I mean is a brand new desk going to help teachers educate our children better or make them learn easier?  Will a new brick in a building go anywhere as far as a brand new idea on teaching?  Just how can it be justified that we do not have money to put sports back on the curriculum but we can always find room for the latest furniture idea?

Now like I said, if there is more information than we are being given that makes this plan sounder than what it appears here, fine but if there is not, at what point are those who truly care about the education of all our children going to stand up and say enough is enough.


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