UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford’s school district needs another week to decide if it will build as many as two new schools. Some board members said it's too big of a decision to rush and they have not been seeing eye-to-eye. Some say seven extra days will help them, while others believe two years to mull it over is enough and nothing is going to change in a week.
Rockford Public School superintendent Ehren Jarrett gave his full endorsement of green lighting construction on two new schools, saying they're long overdue, it'll be an ongoing investment and the risks do not outweigh the possible rewards.
A final vote, which will now happen at a special meeting called for December 15, will pick one of the following four options:
1) Build Two new schools for approximately $29 million; those schools would replace Nelson, Kishwaukee, White Swan, Thompson and Cherry Valley elementary schools.
2) Build One new school and an addition to White Swan Elementary costing approximately $23 million; Thompson and Cherry Valley elementary schools would be replaced.
3) Build One new school and an addition to Nelson Elementary costing approximately $18 million; Kishwaukee Elementary would be replaced.
4) Make Additions to Nelson and White Swan for approximately $14 million; Kishwaukee, Thompson and Cherry Valley elementary schools would be replaced.
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- As Thanksgiving break approaches, a very tough decision sits on Rockford Public Schools’ plate: deciding how many schools to close for good.
Not everyone is on the same page when it comes spending tens of millions of dollars on new facilities, either. The board must now consider if it wants two new schools after an independent committee found there is enough money to build. Along with that, the board must decide what schools would shut down as a result. Those schools would include Nelson and Kishwaukee Elementary in Rockford and Cherry Valley, White Swan and Thompson Elementary in Cherry Valley. Village President Jim Claeyssen says Harrison and Perryville would be an ideal spot.
“it's not in an area where it's going to disturb the neighborhoods while you're trying to build a new school,” Claeyssen said. “It's out in an open corn field so you don't have that period where you’re shut down for certain times of the day and things like that. You can actually work on it and put the school together”
Board member Tim Rollins believes the available money in the $250 million budget should not be used to build new facilities when there are other glaring needs.
“I.T. recommended we spend $10 million, 18 months ago but we only spent $1 million,” Rollins said. “We differed new textbooks. We need have an honest discussion about that.”
A decision is expected to be made by December 8th.
ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Brand new schools may be around the corner for some district 205 students. RPS confirmed there will be enough money left, to build two new schools, after the majority of its $250 million budget is used.
According to RPS Chief Operations Officer Todd Schmidt, school number one could replace Nelson and Kishwaukee; school two could take out Cherry Valley, White Swan and Thompson. Openings would be targeted for the 2018-2019 school year.
Schmidt said he wants to be clear, the Facilities Plan Oversight Committee’s job is simply to run the numbers and decide whether it's affordable.
"It will be the board's decision,” he said. “The committee will make its recommendation as per what the board wanted and then it's up to the board to take a vote and say yes they want to continue on with that or if they want to do something different."
According to Schmidt, they've accounted for about $40 million. He says RPS is using the blueprint of Barber school's 84,000 square-foot space as a baseline. It will be presented in front of the school board at its next meeting. A decision could be made as early as December 8th.