On November 4, Rockford Area Schools will ask voters to determine the future of our schools. The tax impact on a $200,000 home would be about 87 cents a day.
This is a message posted on the Rockford School web site from the Superintendent.
Rockford Schools’ priority has always been and will continue to be providing a quality education for our students. Our students leave here prepared to make a positive contribution to society, and we have every confidence that they will go on to do great things. Educating kids, however, is costly and the state government’s funding has not kept up with increases in inflation and costs. As such, we are forced to appeal to you, our community, to help us financially.
On November 4 we will be seeking an increase in our operating levy, which will allow us to continue supporting the quality of education we currently provide for our students. We recognize that times are tough for everyone financially. Economically, things seem less than certain, and we are all concerned, but while we recognize that our timing is not opportune, we simply cannot wait any longer. As a district, our financial situation has become dire.
We live in an age of innovation and education must keep up. Unfortunately, in our current economic situation we cannot even afford the programs we currently have, let alone create new ones.
Four years ago, we saw that the trend in state funding would eventually cause us financial hardship. Our per pupil funding ranked in the bottom 20% of the state. At that time we proactively tried to pass an operating levy. Sadly, that levy was rejected. Since then, the funding gap between our district and surrounding districts has continued to widen: we now rank in the bottom 14% of the state.
Since that effort, we have continued to give Rockford students an education comparable to that received anywhere in the state. We have had to make over $1,000,000 in cuts to remain financially solvent and have lost many good teachers and programs to these cuts. We have continued, however, to provide good programs while we have worked to increase the public’s knowledge of our decisions and make them a part of the decision making process.
We have held community planning and study sessions, created focus groups that have helped in everything from strategic planning to referendum decisions, set up methods of reporting progress and increasing accountability to the community we serve, made decisions based on concrete data and shared those decisions with the public, and run the district as efficiently as possible. We want you to be involved. This is, after all, your community.
For the good of our students, and for the good of the communities within our district, we ask you to give consideration to our request for an operating levy increase on November 4.
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