Rockford's mayor steps in to help the city's ailing school district. The mayor says Rockford's economy and future depends on it.
Mayor Doug Scott told a group of educators it's time for the community to make education a top priority and his administrations first step to assemble a team of local business leaders to analyze the district's finances.
"This is not to supplant the school district's operations committee or to make recommendations on cuts that have to be made by board members almost immediately, but I'm confident that they will make recommendations that will help the school district and provide a level of confidence for the community," said Scott at a press conference Monday afternoon.
The mayor says the success of Rockford depends on the success of students walking these halls, which is why community involvement is the second step of his plan.
"The 10 years that we were in the courts, I think, numbed us. Decisions weren't ours to make. Now we all need to be reengaged," Scott said.
With the help of Rockford College's president and former Mayor John McNamara, Scott plans to coordinate public meetings on issues facing the district and generate community involvement. School board leaders and administrators joined the mayor for his announcement.
"We don't want to relinquish local control either. We believe that we can do it. This is such as important first step," said Rockford school board president Nancy Kalchbrenner.
With a new superintendent about to the reins, interim Superintendent Ellen Bueschel says the timing is important. The mayor's financial group should issue its first report on Rockford schools.
The mayor says he will also appoint a permanent steering committee to discuss school related issues from financing to facilities. School board members say it's important to make sure these groups represent all segments of the community.