RPS 205 School Windows Need Fixing and Replacing

Did you know many of our Rockford Public Schools have the original single-pane windows? Did you know many of these windows have no screens – and that, when the windows are open, bees and other insects fly in, disrupting the learning environment and risking students’ health? Did you know heat pours out many of the windows, making temperature control impossible and making students miserable? That is why fixing and replacing windows – part of our 10-year Facilities Plan – is critical to making our schools 21st Century Learning Environments.  

See three examples of the poor condition of windows at West Middle School below.

The Rockford Public Schools offer a rich and varied curriculum to its 28,000 students. It is one of the largest school districts in Illinois and the largest full-time employer in the Rockford region. The district’s efforts are focused on Readiness Rocks, five initiatives aimed at improving student achievement, making best use of resources and making RPS 205 a desirable and successful school district. Those initiatives are: College and Career Readiness, Seven Periods to Success, 21st Century Learning Environments, Preschool for All and College for All.  See www.rps205.com.

Vote Yes For Kids on November 6th!

West Middle School Windows 2

West Middle School Windows 3



  1. Denny Wallace

    More good examples… Keep them coming… Yet also be fair about spending priorities?

    As for me… I think more schools with AC have a higher priority than auxillary Gyms at all the High schools… Besides, why not spend the $50-$70 million planned for auxillary Gyms to be used at most 170+ days per year… And put the money towards Park District efforts to build facilities that the community can use use 24\7… 365 days per year?

    My letter to the editor sent to Wally Haas today…

    Bob Trojan is Correct Vote “Yes for Kids” however, the discussion must include more than just selling the overdue need for mechanical upgrades…

    Prime example… Athletic Directors told us practice schedule conflicts “about a dozen times per year” were cause for Taxpayers to spend $50+ million dollars so Coaches and student athletes wouldn’t be inconvenienced.

    Certainly we need more space for High schools athletics as they were all built before Title IX required equality of Females Sports offerings (i.e. explosion of Girls Sports needing practice facilities)

    However, JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS A GOOD IDEA… Doesn’t mean we can afford to do it… + What about other Good Ideas that may be BETTER IDEAS…

    My guess is $139 Million Bonds are paid off over 20 years… about a $7 million payment per year.

    This summer the School Board cut Property Taxes by 10% and it meant Schools would lose $14 million in revenue.

    Let’s think BIGGER

    Skip the 10% School Property Tax Cut. Instead take the $14 million and borrow $400+ million and build 15-20 NEW SCHOOLS + COMPLETE ALL OVERDUE MAINTENANCE of the School you don’t close (i.e. rebuild)?

    Remember NO TAX Increase as same Tax bill as last year

    Comments? As I thought Blogs were suppose to be a give-n-take medimum for exchanging ideas\opinions?

  2. Denny, thanks for your detailed comments. You have raised many suggestions that I would not be able to properly answer. I support this referendum and the work that has been done by RPS administration and the year long investigation by them and the public. I know that they will do what the various inputs have suggested and with the proper priority.
    My blogs are intended to demonstrate the many, many (I know I won’t be able to cover them all) tasks that need to be done and encourage voters to “Vote for the Kids” on November 6th

  3. Denny Wallace

    I too trust in the Full-Time Pro’s (Administration) however, my point is to raise the possibility of pursuing “politically correct” or non-controversial good ideas… leaves far too much on the table if we are really interested in what’s best for the Kids…

    + The Administration must be ready to be held accountable for their efforts and recommendations… Not saying witch hunts but yet The Education Pro’s should know the BEST IDEAS out of the many Good Ideas… The Pro’s must be encouraged to pursue them (and held accountable if they don’t)

    Thanks for the reply…

  4. It actually makes economic sense to replace windows. About 20 years ago, when SD205 had an Architect on Staff, I did preliminary ground work for the replacement of the windows at Lincoln. At that time the cost to replace the windows could be paid for in FIVE YEARS with the savings in energy lost.

  5. Denny Wallace

    3 stories of windows on two sides, replacement paid back in energy savings in 5 years?

    My wild ass guess would be that’s gotta believe 25 classrooms per floor + offices… Somewhere around 100 large rooms with nearly floor to ceiling windows… + installation (and that assumes the 75 year old Lincoln doesn’t come up with surprises…

    I gotta believe we are talking at least $10,000 per room and could be 2-3 times that with Installation… or easily costing $1,000,000…

    So to get a pay back in five years (assuming $1 million costs) would mean you would need to save 50% on $400,000 per year Utility Costs to get a payback in five years…

    I got zero clue what it costs to heat Lincoln, but only 4-5 months are really cold and as far as a I know… Lincoln doesn’t have AC (and its closed June\July\August) so that means Heating bills would have to be $100,000 per month during the winter…

    “Preliminary ground work” sounds alot like “on paper cost savings” whereas the real world tends not to play out as expected…

    Yet to be clear… Hell yes new windows would have an enrgy savings payback… But instead of investing $1,000,000 in new windows at Lincoln… and still end up with a brutally inefficient Middle School… Why not just build the New Middle school and actually get serious bang for the buck….

  6. Denny Wallace

    “…encourage voters to “Vote for the Kids” on November 6th…” Yet it would seem you could properly answer my contention that if people chose to vote NO doesn’t = they aren’t voting for the Kids… (fyi I will vote YES)

    Yes we need to Vote for the Kids… but the $139 million Bond approval I hope is only a good start…

    We do still have time to change direction on pouring money into maintenance of schools that should be torn down… To include getting the Charter Schools into Building that at least compare to other their other Public School peers…

    May only be my opinion, but THINKING BIGGER may be better than just “good-enough” thinking…

  7. Denny Wallace

    “… I know that they will do what the various inputs have suggested and with the proper priority….”

    Unlike the witch hunt crowd I too share “some of” your confidence in Administration and the powers-t0-be finally GETTING-IT!

    I certainly hope Adminsitration (and the School Board) are ready-willing and able to accept suggestions AND TO WORK HARD AT ESTABLISHING PRIORITIES when it comes to spending scarce Taxpayer dollars…

    Just can’t say past history gives up serious reason “TO KNOW THEY (Adminstration\School Board)WILL” …

    I hope so is the only logical conclusion so far…

  8. Denny Wallace

    Even if the yammerings below are off by 10-20%…. Imagine the possibilities well beyond fixing windows and replacing old boilers!

    If we can borrow $139 million and not increase taxes + We do over the vote to cut School Property Taxes by 10% (=$14 million lost revenue to RPS)….

    That means we should be able to issue $417 million in Bonds yet keep the School Property Tax Bill the same as it was this year (or at least prior to the 10% School Board approved Tax cut this summer)

    Imagine the possibilities… with another $139 million to spend? (Total $417 million)

    $60 Million = New East HIgh School
    $30 Million = New Lincoln Middle School
    $30 Million = New West Middle School
    $60 million = improvements to other 3 High Schools (per current facility plan)
    $40 million = Improvement of existing schools not closed (per current facility plan)
    $15 million = New Marsh School near Edge Brook
    $15 Million = New Bloom School near Park ViewSpring Creek
    $30 Million = Two New Northeast Side Grade School
    $45 Million = Three New Southeast Side Grade School
    $45 Million = Three New Northwest Side Grade School
    $45 million = Three New Southwest Side schools (or New Charter School Investments)

    The above THINKING BIGGER concept = 16 New Schools + all (or more even) 10 year Facility Plan Improvements)… Yet unless I’ve done it again and missed something… ALL CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED AND NOT COST TAXPAYERS ANYTHING MORE THAN WHAT THEY SPENT THIS YEAR IN SCHOOL PROPERTY TAXES…

    Imagine the positive Mo-jo for the Rockford Community IF unlike most communities (i.e. Belvidere and Harlem) who face spending down cash reserves (or increasing property taxes)… ROCKFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT GOES ALL IN TOWARDS MAKING OUR SCHOOLS (and our Kids) ALL THAT THEY CAN BE!

    But what do I know… I’m just a long-winded, overly opinionated S.O.B. who spends too much time writing Letters to the Editor or sounding off on RRStar… YET JUST IMAGINE IF?

  9. Rob Belles

    @ Denny: I believe you are really off by 50% if you replace with LIKE construction. ie: stone floors, brick, etc. A NEW school, built like Lewis Lemmon is about $200 per square foot. A new school built like Lincoln or West is $400 per square foot. Lincoln is 180,000sf.
    You can a fraction (about 25-30%) of the total for a new school, AND have an old building that functions as a new school. Then use the additional money (per your above) and put it back into programming these buildings to their fullest potential.
    Please look at the Chicago Merchandise Mart – it is proof that old does not equal replacement.

  10. Denny Wallace

    Ok then we only build 7 to 10 New Schools…

    I agree some old buildings can be reborn but Lincoln\East\West\+ others are land-locked + being an eye-sore + the contruction style has gotta make it damn tough to upgrade… especially HVAC, electrical in those thick walls…

    As far as Programming vs bricks and motar upgrades… Give me Bricks-n-Motar as we’ve spent $100’s of million on Programming with very little to show for te money (in my opinion)

  11. Denny Wallace

    Also… Why are Schools $200 to $400 per sq foot… Please don’t just say because they have to or that’s what the School Codes require…

    When was the last time anyone revised school codes or just took a serious look at cost benefit analysis of what is required… Have School Codes kept current with changing technology\building Materials, etc?

    We can keep kids safe without overdoing life safety Codes + backup to the backups… I could be full of it (have been before) but my bet is all kinds of high cost requirements go into building schools JUST BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THE BOOK SAYS… little to do with what makes the most sense…

  12. Denny Wallace

    Seriously… you want to compare anything in Rockford to “…Chicago Merchandise Mart…”

    The Chicago Merchandise mart cost per sq inch = about the cost of an entire Block of Rockford Property…

    But as I said… Yes re-inventing old building can have merit but please forget making that the starting point in justifying the benefits of tearing something down or better yet… building something in a new (better) location…

    Also… LIKE Construction doesn’t = the best or most appropriate construction when you compare $200 to $400 per sq foot…

  13. Rob Belles

    @ Denny: It is not the codes that drive the costs of schools. In fact, the school codes are NOT up to date and are NOT as strict as for other private buildings. A private schools are held to a much higher (and more costly) standard. The Government saving itself money.

    The issue, as I previously stated, is durability of construction. You simply can not afford to build schools like Lincoln today. And maybe we don’t want to. Perhaps WE (Denny, Bob, SD205 facilities, and myself) with SD205 permission could go LOOK and SEE.

    A remodeled Lincoln will be around in 100 years. A new Lewis Lemmon will never make 50. I am 1000% convinced Lincoln, East, and West are worth the investment (IF we need the space). Of course there are solid, analytical, ways to make this determination. AND I think we can all agree this needs to be done for EACH school where a substantial investment of remodeling dollars is considered. After all we ALL want what is best for the Kids and the Community.

  14. Denny Wallace

    Pretty easy decision Rob… You appear to have professional expertise where as I’m more clueless than not… Yet there are other Professionals who can help sort out build new vs remodel vs clear-cut and start-over…

    There are answers out there and we MUST pursue the best answers and not simply what I think, you think or what the part-time amateur School Board Members think… as our Kids are counting on getting it right.

  15. Denny Wallace

    ? for you “…are NOT as strict as for other private buildings. …”

    Than how come we can’t build a great big shell like they do with Commercial Buildings… even like great big Shopping Malls that are easily reconfigured with walls moved in-n-out to suit a new tenant?

    Is Cherry Vale Mall, the old Colonial Village any more or less risky than a School? Fire Saftey is less because Schools have much less fire load and much less hazards than commercial stores… Capacity come Christmas rush is not much different than a full school building… Yet Colonial Village Mall was sold for peanuts to Heartland… Even the costs of Cherryvale Mall could be less than a state of the art $75,000,000 million dollar High school…

    “…a much higher (and more costly) standard….” WHY… Based upon what?

  16. Rob Belles

    @ Denny:
    You COULD build a shell, like CherryVale Mall. AND do a “build-out” like Barns and Noble for the school library. AND, you will find the cost of NEW construction for this to be close to the $400/sf I mentioned earlier.
    Now you are catching on with “old building” value. SD205 has A LOT of Colonial Village properties. They need some “routine” maint. that has not been done is 20-30 years. They need some upgrades too. BUT, at the end of the day it is all about TOTAL cost of new versus rehab/remodel.
    Currently there are a number of us professionals (architects, engineers, and construction managers) private and at SD205 that are able to make these as educated and informed decisions.
    My one goal in responding to this article, and comments is to educate Rockford that you can’t say new is better…. OR Old is precious (West?) and must be saved at all costs. It is a combination of both, but in the end Rockford must trust that the decisions were made based on LONG TERM costs, not politics.

  17. Denny Wallace

    You can’t be serious… “..SD205 has A LOT of Colonial Village properties. ”

    No way can you take a Lincoln, Guilford,or Bloom Schools and just reconfigure the interior space like “Colonial Viallage” was done by Heartland…

    Maybe I’m wrong but looks to be like you have an “unspoken agenda” to support and pursue “SAVE THE OLD BUILDING” no matter what attitude..

    If you are in fact sincere… Simply demand Professionals make the decision not rookie amateurs (like me)… and that most certainly include all current School Board Members.

  18. Denny Wallace

    FYI I sincerly appreciate you give-n-take comments with me as you do know more than I and have avoided talking down to me… Thanks as most people are so quick to hurl taunts and unfounded comments or even misleading comments…

    I probably was dead wrong to suggest the “unspoken agenda” comment… wish I could take it back…

    But I do say we agree we need to question the status-quo of doing somethign the same way just because thats what we have always done…

    I agree 100% with this approach… Currently there are a number of us professionals (architects, engineers, and construction managers) private and at SD205 that are able to make these as educated and informed decisions.