At its Nov. 18 meeting, the Rockford Area School Board covered a number of issues, including good news regarding the preschool program, school achievements and events, enrollment numbers and the 2013 audit.
Tiffany Reinhard, coordinator of Launching Pad Preschool (a school readiness program), made a presentation to the board about the program that addressed the program’s growth, curriculum, benefits and four-star rating.
Reinhard told the council that program participation has more than doubled since she was hired during the 1989-99 school year and additional sections have been added to accommodate the increased participation with half- or full-day options and varying weekday days. The staff includes three licensed early teaches and five classroom assistants. Busing is an option for some students, and it’s is fee based.
Launching Pad Preschool educates with the Reggio Emilla approach, a method that encourages students’ interests through investigation and projects, with a strong authentic art component. The program was recently recognized with a four-star Parent Aware Rating, a system that identifies education providers focused on high quality early learning and kindergarten readiness. The criteria for this rating included training and curriculum assessment, commitment to a learning approach, daily activities and progress tracking.
The four-star rating means more scholarships for qualifying families with preschool-aged children to help defray the cost of tuition and transportation. Reinhard said that after years of striving to provide early learning opportunities for families but facing funding challenges, the additional scholarship funds would allow the district to open more doors to its most vulnerable children.
Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School hosted Empty Bowls, a light evening meal and fundraising event with proceeds benefiting the local food shelf. The school’s Kindness Council will lead a “shoe drive” (new or gently used) in December. It will host a Third-Grade Spotlight at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, in the high school auditorium, and a Kindergarten Holiday Concert at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, also in the high school auditorium.
Rockford Middle School – Center for Environmental Studies seventh-grade students participated in a Courage Retreat conducted by Youth Frontiers. The school also hosted a Veterans Day program where three students were named Patriot Pen Essay Finalists.
And, in preparation of moving fifth-grade students from the REAMS campus to the RMS-CES building, Principal Amy Denneson reported that a Transition Oversight Group was in place and would begin meeting weekly.
The middle school has a band concert on Tuesday, Nov. 26, (grade six at 6:30 p.m., grades seven and eight at 7:30), in the high school auditorium.
More than 90 Rockford High School students were recently recognized at a the school’s annual Academic Recognition Breakfast for earning an academic letter this school year. While sophomores and juniors tested in late October, freshmen were preparing with a writing test for MCA testing in the spring.
Both the marching band concert and the fall musical, “Bye Bye Birdie,” were well-received and well-attended.
Enrollment projections were prepared by the district’s business manager, Sandy Strozyk, in three different scenarios for the school year through 2017-18.
As enrollment sits now, there are 1,658 enrollees. This, Strozyk said, was a huge improvement from numbers a few years back that dipped below 1,500.
A conservative estimate for enrollment in 2017-18, relying only on consensus data for resident numbers, would put enrollment at about 1.51.
Taking into account an increase in open enrollment numbers, as has been obtained in the last three years, the projection is more in line with today’s numbers at 1,644. If kindergarten numbers remain strong, with area growth and other contributing factors, the enrollment projection for four years out includes an additional 100 students.
The board received copies of the district’s 2013 fiscal year audit to review, with approval expected at it December meeting. The audit presentation was made by Dennis Hoogeveen of Clifton, Larson, Allen. Hoogeveen told the board that the result was a clean, unqualified audit that supported a very good outcome for the district and very heathy balances. He added that Strozyk’s attention to the audit process was beneficial and should be noted.
In consideration of upcoming building and maintenance projects, four versions of the 2014-15 school calendar were presented to the board. The board chose option one, the original version previously approved, in which classes begin Sept. 2 and end June 4.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Rockford Area Schools Board of Education is Monday, Dec. 16, and will include the District 883 Truth in Taxation Hearing.