As the November election edges closer a group comes forward pushing Rockford School District 205's referendum. The community organization Better Schools Bright Future wants to see Rockford school buildings improved. It is calling for people to vote yes on a $139-million bond referendum.
"I see great work being done by teachers in buildings that are really deteriorating. I just don't think that is the best environment for learning or for motivation or morale or growth in education," says Dr. Bill Gorski
SwedishAmerican Health System CEO and president is co-chair of the referendum support group. He points out the referendum doesn't raise taxes. It replaces bonds being retired with new borrowing. Dr. Gorski's co-chair Rockford College's Dr. Robert Head points out why the effort is needed.
"Times have changed since Socrates stood outside and lectured for hours. Education is interactive. Education is technology savvy so it is important for us to create learning environments that are 21st century oriented to allow our students to become as effective in learning and our teachers to be effective in teaching as they can be," says Dr. Head.
All Rockford District 205 Schools are included in the administration's 10 year facilities plan. That's what voters will be asked to pay for with the referendum. It may be a tough sell for some people like Jerry Palmer.
"I will vote against it. We need to retire the bond and lower the burden on taxpayers," says Palmer.
Others were concerned that there is no option to build new schools. Dr. Gorski worries a "no" vote could ultimately cost Rockford residents more.
"Companies that may want to relocate into Rockford who look at that crumbling infrastructure of our schools and say I don't find you, Rockford an attractive community to locate to. When that happens that increases the tax load for everyone if the tax base deteriorates," says Dr. Gorski.
The question will be up to the voters to decide November 6th.
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