ROCKFORD -- Rebuild, not refresh: that’s the plan that Rockford Public School District 205 is supporting to convince voters to stop refurbishing crumbling schools, and start building new ones.
It’s also the message that community leaders shared at a special press conference. Rockford school staffers, community leaders, parents, and supporters gathered on Tuesday to push for a fall referendum to get the public's vote this November.
"We do the children, who have to attend those schools, a disservice by trying to put patches and Band-Aids on old dilapidated buildings...when we ought to be giving those children new facilities," states Ian Linnabary, Treasurer for the Better Schools Brighter Future Campaign.
The campaign is called Better Schools, Brighter Future. It’s an expensive venture, but Bridget French, Executive Director for Alignment Rockford says voting “Yes” will not increase property taxes. “I think the most important thing for parents and the community to know is that there is no additional expense in building new schools," he says.
There is no added expense because this referendum is designed to give the School Board the flexibility to use funding they already have to build one or more new schools.
To those who are still sitting on the fence, Linnabary adds, "At that time two years ago, we weren't prepared to say definitively we need to build new schools."
From community leaders to Stateline pastors, the campaign is recruiting lots of help to gain the support of voters.
"I think it's a good time for us to achieve unity in the community around a single plan. Pass this referendum and send the message that we highly value education and students. And, we know how to get things done in this community," Mike Schablaske, Executive Director for Transform Rockford, maintains.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Board, Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church, agrees, "So, I say to the parents, the proof is in the pudding. If you stand on the sidelines for this, you're going to miss an opportunity to have a successful child in the future."
If the referendum is approved, it would allow $139 million dollars to be set aside for building improvement—to be used to build new schools.