To the Editor:
Since 2004 I have served as Rockford Area School’s business manager; and I am currently in my 29th year in this position having worked at four Minnesota school districts. I spent hours recently explaining school district funding and the proposed bond project to Tom Cook and Chuck Alcon. I was shocked to read Cook’s statement that our district finances are poorly managed. Rockford Area Schools receives “clean audit opinions” annually, and repeatedly earned the Minnesota Department of Education Finance Award.
Contrary to Cook’s statement, the bond issue vote is about closing Rockford Middle School, laying off staff, and having fewer student programs. I believe a viable school district with maintained, efficient buildings is key to stability and successful communities in Corcoran, Greenfield and Rockford.
Board members have spent countless hours in training provided by the Minnesota School Boards Association, in work sessions and committees reviewing the budget in depth, discussing building issues and studying many reports. The board meetings Cook referenced in his letter are monthly business meetings, where members take required action.
The $10 million Cook referenced is not simply replacing steam boilers. It modernizes the original middle school 1959 boiler with a new hot water boiler system, ventilation systems, distribution piping and electrical that are beyond their useful life with new energy efficient systems that meet current standards; adds an additional elementary school boiler to provide redundancy; and replaces one high school boiler with an energy efficient boiler as well as original ventilation systems, piping. The estimated cost of boiler work alone is $1,825,600.
Please refer to the school district web site (www.rockford.k12.mn.us) to see the financial impact of taxes projected for each year of the bond. Also found are facts on the field improvements and turf field.
Currently 296 school districts have levy authority for additional referendum funding, ranging from $1 to $3,450 per pupil. Rockford is ranked 267th lowest of the 296 schools receiving only $395 additional dollars per pupil. Rockford’s current principal debt for existing approved bond issues is $32,125,000. Please gather facts and make informed decisions.
District 883 Business Manager