Rockford Schools report progress, events, increased enrollment
At its Dec.17 meeting, the Rockford School Board was treated to a scene from “A Christmas Carol” by fully costumed middle school thespians.
The scene represented one piece of a longer, progressive theater experience that would be performed for third grade students at the elementary school in stations with information and questions about the play’s subject matter doled out to the younger students to think about and discuss in advance. The performance, introduced by RMS teacher Jennifer Piehl, was well received.
The Rockford Middle School – Center for Environmental Studies (RMS-CES) recently had a review by the Northwest Suburban Integration School District and received positive feedback.
In its second full year as a STEM school with an environment focus, the curriculum continues to develop with new practice-based exploratory learning experiences being integrated into core subjects. Themed Interdisciplinary Explorations (TIE), for example, allowed grade units 6 to eight to develop units on data collection, ecosystems and raptors, and astronomy.
Another big event is on the horizon for RMS-CES with ‘History Day”. This annual event has students working under the theme “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas and Events”. Students will display their projects on Feb. 28.
At Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School (REAMS), staff is preparing for the school’s Preschool/Kindergarten Festival, which has been a big success in the past. The event, scheduled Saturday, Jan. 5, from 9 to 11 a.m. at the elementary building, brings the district’s youngest students and their parents together with staff for a day of fun and information.
The festival will feature the preschool and kindergarten programs, allow families to meet the staff, and provide time for incoming preschool and kindergarten children to explore through creative play and classroom activities. The class of 2026 will take their first class picture at 10 a.m. in the REAMS Commons.
Rockford High School teacher Amy Delcotto relayed to the board information, and positive feedback, on a program it began for seniors this year called STRIVE. The program brings students and local business professionals together several times throughout the year, during the school day, to help students find success-building techniques including goal setting, improved grades and attendance, and awareness of higher education options.
The Rockford Lions and area business will award scholarships to four of the programs graduates. Delcotto told he board that she’s seeing improvement and interest in the students participating, and believes the mentors are equally committed.
RHS Principal Ryan Jensen reported that staff has discussed technology integration into the school’s curriculum, and that the Faculty Senate has just begun exploring the idea of merging arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), creating a STEM school.
Glen Klapake, District Athletic Director, commented on a grant for $110,000 from the Hennepin County Youth Sports Program Grant, thanking those who played an active role in securing the grant including Michelle Byers and Chad Robran. He went on to tell the board that plans for improved fields in the district will become a source of pride and allow for tournament play. A high school tournament has been scheduled for April 27.
The grant amount awarded will be subtracted from the bond amount that voters approved in November, lowing the overall amount to $26,890,000. A lower than initially projected interest rate will be reflected in annual levy payments by district property owners. In the case of a $250,000 valued residential property, an increase of $167 was projected using the information available in the months leading up to the election. The estimated amount for that property is now $146.
The district’s business manager, Sandy Strozyk, told the board that it would receive a monthly report updating the bond/improvement progress. Tabs on the district’s web site (www.rockford.k12.mn.us) will guide the public to this information, which includes some preliminary plans and financial information regarding the bond.
The district is experiencing growth, and projections put overall student population at around 1,800 for the 2017-18 school year (currently at 1588). Increased enrollment is projected for all three of the schools, with all-day, every-day kindergarten, the addition of STEM middle school curriculum, and building and grounds improvements from bonding contributing to higher estimates.
The board also recognized, at this meeting, Dawn Engebretson, who is being recognized by the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership with a “Breaking Barriers Award.” The award is presented to those who have helped impact and improve athletic opportunities for women and girls. Engebretson is the Rockford Rockets softball coach and a REAMS teacher.
The next regular meeting of the Rockford School Board will be Monday, Jan. 23, at 6:30 p.m. in the district boardroom located in the lower level of RMS.