Rockford is moving forward with a massive 10-year plan to revamp its elementary schools. The School Board approved the 250-million dollar plan last night on a five to one vote, with one abstention.
Under the plan, eight elementary schools will close, two new ones will be built, and improvements will be made at the rest of the schools. A number of residents spoke in opposition to the plan, saying the district was favoring bricks and mortar over education. Superintendent Ehren Jarrett says public input from more than 40 meetings helped shape the final plan:
"Everyone had an opportunity to be heard and I think the best time to be heard is when there was an opportunity to have a two-way dialogue. And so, so many people weighed in along the way, and the plan got better and better, and I think we will not only be able to improve learning environments, but learning outcomes."
The board also voted to place a referendum on the fall ballot to ask voters for permission to build two new schools, using existing funds. If that is approved, construction could start late next year. Some students could find themselves assigned to new schools as early as the 2015 school year.