Two Rockford agencies want expanded partnership between parks - – Rockford’s News Leader

Two Rockford agencies want expanded partnership between parks and public schools

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Two Rockford agencies want to make their partnership official. They already work hand-in-hand, but leaders on both sides say one piece is missing.

The Rockford Park District and District #205 have collaborated for decades. Now, they want to take those joint efforts and create a joint committee.

"This is the best time, the closest that we've ever worked with each other, all our values are really aligned with each other." -Rockford Park District Deputy Director of Operations Jay Sandine.

Tuesday night, in front of both of their boards, RPD and RPS leaders showed how the two agencies help each other educationally and recreationally.

"The park district is a great learning environment for kids. We've got the Nicholas Conservatory with the sciences and the plants and the tropical areas and everything. Lewis Lemon Elementary School turns into a community center at night time and we have hundreds of kids who come there and participate in recreational partner programs." -Sandine explains.

He says Tuesday night opened up discussion to expand existing programs and possibly create new ones, but kids aren't the only ones who could benefit from increased partnership.

"We're going to talk tonight about opportunities to increase our efficiencies and to continue to be good stewards of our taxpayer funds and so we're going to talk about our joint playgrounds, our joint land between the school district and park district. Right now our finance team, the school district's finance team are working together and they're looking at ways that they can maybe align bids together to save both sides money. Maybe joining usage of utility contracts to save money." -says Sandine.

The agencies want two representatives from each of their boards to meet regularly in a joint committee and come up with a resolution for increased partnership. The Park District picked Ian Linnabary and Jack Armstrong. District #205 hasn't selected from their Board of Education yet.

"The next six months are going to be a lot of fun when we get our representatives from both boards and staff together to really present a nice partnership agreement in the Fall, I think that's when we'll really be able to put out statistics of how many kids we're impacting, the grades that we're impacting, the tax dollars that we're saving, I think that's the time we can start measuring that." -Sandine adds.

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