ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- We now have a better idea of the progress being made in the Rockford Public School District. Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett gave an outline under his Education Outlook presentation today for local business leaders.
"We have a really nice vision laid out from a facilities perspective, with our high school academies. We're doing things to improve our middle schools, I think we're going to see us building on some of the work we've already done, as well as introducing some new initiatives," said Dr. Jarrett.
In middle schools, the district has increased the number of students in orchestra and band as a result of adding a seventh period. Hundreds of people heard similar, positive updates from Dr. Jarrett today.
Amy Peifer has a fourth-grader in District 205. She's also a youth services librarian at the Rockford Public Library. Peifer says she likes the collaboration she's seeing at RPS.
"The library will be going into some of the schools to discuss our digital technology that are available to children at the library," said Peifer.
The district is also partnering with local colleges with a goal of getting all kids to college or a career. Better graduation and attendance rates could help.
"I think that we are absolutely on the right track. We're looking at attendance rates going up by 2%, that's a very big step for us," explained Nancy Chamberlain, a parent in District 205.
Nancy Chamberlain says she's also impressed when the two percent increase in graduation rates. Her daughter will contribute to that rate when she graduates from Guilford High School in the Spring.
The facilities plan is already starting to show results. The district has seen an 18 percent reduction in natural gas costs after replacing windows at East High School. And you may have noticed all the road work at schools.
"Improvements were just done at my child's school, it makes it a lot easier to drive in and out of school," said Pfeifer.
Those school upgrades will continue until every building is improved.
We're expected to learn about the district's five-year plan this Fall.
Also, Ford Motor Company has recognized 16 communities nationwide as Next Generation Learning communities, Rockford is one of them. We'll learn why Rockford was chosen in the coming weeks.