FAQ’s

What will the bond money be used for?

Revenues generated by the sales of the bonds will be used to fund facility improvements in the individual school buildings of RPS 205. The improvements have been identified and prioritized in the 10-year facilities plan that was developed over the past year. Read the plan here.

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Which schools will be improved?

Improvements have been identified in every school within the District, based on need. The plan identifies the needs in each facility and has prioritized those needs for implementation.

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Will my taxes go up?

No, the bond referendum will not increase the school district’s tax rate.

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What are voters being asked to approve?

On November 6, 2012, voters are being asked to authorize the District to issue $139 million in general obligation bonds to fund repairs, improvements and additions to Rockford Public School buildings.  The bond referendum will provide funding to make changes to our schools that will create state-of-the-art learning environments for the sciences, arts, and other curricular areas that support increased technological integration while also providing a climate-controlled, safe, and comfortable learning environment for students and staff.

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How will the district pay back the $139 million dollars in bond funding?

The district currently pays $16.5 million a year to service debt.  Those bonds are incrementally dropping off the books within the next two years and will be replaced with these new bonds so there will be no net increase or decrease—the district’s overall debt payment will remain the same, meaning there is no need to increase the tax rate in order to fund the new bonds.

Note:  The District’s bond rating is 3.9 on a 4.0 scale according to the Illinois State Board of Education, meaning the district has a very low level of overall debt, especially compared to other districts.

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Why is the bond referendum needed?

The average age of our school buildings is 57 years old.  Some of the boilers heating our schools are 75 years old. Carpet is duct-taped together, windows are cracked and some are 100 years old, parking lots are pot-holed, and buildings are not ready and equipped for 21st century learning, the type of education based on technology to help prepare our students for careers and education beyond RPS 205.

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How were the updates to each school determined?

The school district spent one year collecting data, evaluating all existing schools and conducting focus groups with parents, staff, and community members to discuss and assess the current conditions of our schools and needed improvements.  A plan was developed and analyzed by outside consultants for accuracy in estimated costs and project scope.  That 10-year facilities plan was then presented to the school board in August and approved.  The bond referendum will partially fund the improvements detailed in that facilities plan.  The total cost is $211,000 with the remaining funding coming from the District’s existing funds.

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How will the bond funding be used?

The funds will be spent to improve EVERY school in our district.  The money will be spent on infrastructure, technology, gymnasiums, auditoriums, science labs, music and art rooms, paint, carpet, landscaping, plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical improvements and more.  The plan for each school is comprehensive and extensive, derived from the year-long community-wide process of assessing all of our schools.  That plan was then approved by the school board.

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Is constructing new buildings part of the referendum?

No.  The school board felt the money would be best spent on repairs, renovations and additions to existing school buildings.  Under the plan, all 57 school buildings will receive significant improvements.  Due to limited funding and the desire to not increase taxes, the school board felt it was best to first address needs in existing school buildings.

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How will the bond proceeds be used?

Revenues generated by the sales of the bonds will be used to fund facility improvements in the individual school buildings of RPS 205. The improvements have been indentified and prioritized in the 10-year facilities plan that was developed over the past year.

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Which schools will be improved and how was this decided?

Improvements have been identified in every school within the District, based on need. RPS 205 developed its facilities plan after a year-long process of gathering information through more than 10,000 surveys from staff, parents and members of the public as well as hosting numerous open public hearings. Overall it was determined that the schools are structurally solid but need repairs, improvements and upgrades to provide a modern learning environment. The plan identifies the needs in each facility and has prioritized those needs for implementation.

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What kind of improvements would happen at the schools?

In some cases, schools have seen decades of deferred maintenance. Many facilities do not reflect physical needs of students and staff because they do not meet American Disabilities Act standards. The buildings are also not operationally efficient and feature heating and cooling systems that are more than 70 years old. Some facilities have 100 year old single-pane windows that significantly increase the energy costs of the building.

The schools also do not accommodate the modern, technology-enchanced teaching methods of a 21st century classroom. Many classrooms only have two electrical outlets. Resources would also improve safety for students by repairing crumbling infrastructure surrounding the schools such as broken sidewalks and dilapidated playgrounds.

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What would be some positive outcomes for the community if the referendum passes?

Success of our schools is a critical component of a successful and vibrant community. Improved schools would help promote economic development through improved job and business recruitment and demand for housing within the Rockford District. Attractive, well-maintained schools are good for neighborhoods, students and the community.

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Why introduce this referendum now?

We must continue building on the forward momentum that is happening at RPS. The District has made great strides toward improving its core educational components and has made impressive progress on its five initiatives call Readiness Rocks. One of the ‘rocks’ is 21st century learning environments, which would be accomplished through implementation of the facilities plan.

Schools in RPS on average are 57 years old. 69 percent of facilities are over 50 years old. We can no longer ignore the decaying environment in these facilities. Kids should not be expected to learn in buildings with carpeting held together with duct tape and walls that have not been painted in 20 years.

Current bond market for long-term debt is the most favorable state than it has been in a long time; interest rates at historic lows, and the competitive market for construction works in the District’s favor.

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