Next Steps for District 205 Facilities Plan

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- After Rockford voters approved a referendum to help repair and upgrade all District 205 school buildings, we’ve got the story on what’s next in bringing the plan to fruition.

It’s important to remember the bonds voters have allowed the district to sell, will help pay for half of this 10-year facilities plan but this isn't an immediate fix. However, we're told construction will probably begin in the summer and the man who will be leading the district then, says he's overwhelmed by the support.

"In a presidential year, to have this kind of support really says a lot about the way this community values our students,” said Dr. Ehren Jarrett.

Current Assistant Superintendent and future Superintendent Ehren Jarrett says there's a lot of excitement, but now it's time to get to work.
The District recently hired a program manager to guide this plan. The next step will be to hire architectural firms to create a community engagement process to determine what 21st century buildings should look like.

"It's going to be a combination of students, parents, teachers, education experts coupled with people who are experts in building and people who have real strong insights in the community and putting that together and making sure we have the right plan for our students,” said Dr. Jarret.

As we've mentioned, not everyone supported this plan. The Village of Cherry Valley is against the part that would close its elementary school and expand White Swan, but Dr. Jarrett says that's what this next step, the community engagement is about, to get more input and make sure they have the right plan.

There is no timeline yet on when those architectural firms will be hired, but the district is currently in the process of looking. Once those firms are chosen, they'll have to be approved by the school board and members of the Better Schools Brighter Future committee don't mind the wait. After all, they spent months campaigning for this referendum.

"Getting the message out that our school system ought to be something of great pride for our community and a big asset has come to fruition. So I really compliment the community on understanding the needs, moving forward with confidence and I look forward to the great things our school system can become and do," said Dr. Robert Head, co-chair of the BSBF committee.

Work on the buildings is expected to start as soon as June. The district says they only have a limited time window, while kids are out of school, to get major work done. They say they want to minimize disruptions in the classroom.

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