State of the Schools

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It's hard to remember what all happens in a year. Especially if you cover 170 square miles and serve over 28,000 students. Basically it's the major events that are sure to stick out. The speech was a way to look at where the Rockford Public School District has gone and what difficult decisions still lie ahead.

In 2006, the Rockford Public School District put a very strict truancy ordinance in place, the district found $21 million that nobody expected and last month the “Kids Win” referendum won by a landslide. But the tough lessons are yet to come.

Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson states, "Let's not regret the fact that we didn't address the issue on our watch."

Thompson says a community discussion on ways to even out the achievement gap is long overdue. Thompson stated, "We have a lot of kids raising kids and that has a huge impact on a child’s cognitive and intellectual development."

The achievement gap consists of schools, life experiences and sociological factors. But those are all touchy subjects. Morrissey states, "If we want to get different results then we better embrace controversy and take on the debate."

School Board President Nancy Kalchbrenner states, "It is time that we work more externally bringing the community in on this discussion and the need to improve student achievement."

Public forums about changes to the attendance zones might be the first test run to see just how well everyone can get along. Thompson says by providing some predictability businesses will want to move to town and that's a move that has a ripple effect. Thompson says, "I've heard from 15 businesses from Chicago who say let me know when you've rezoned."

Getting rid of "choice" is the first major decision the Rockford School Board will face in the new year. A vote is expected to be taken on December 9th. The public forum regarding the proposed attendance zones takes place next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Auburn High School.