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RSD205’s Amcore building purchase was fiscally responsible

The Rockford Board of Education made the correct decision to purchase the former Amcore building on 7th Street. Their action will save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars by purchasing a 1983 building worth millions versus being legally required by life/safety mandates to repair a hundred year old building for about the same cost.

The first two floors are being leased by BMO Harris Bank for a total of $1.2 million over four years with an option to extend the term of the lease, plus $250,000 worth of office furniture for $50,000, and less expensive operating and maintenance costs with the newer building.

The building provides twice as much space for the district, including space to accomodate a larger crowd at board meetings to provide community input.

Normally, the REA contract negotiations would have no bearing on capital improvements or purchasing capital assets because debt service or life/safety funds are not transferrable to salaries and benefits.

However, the $1.8M used for the building’s purchase is being taken from the reserve fund which could be spent for REA negotiated issues. This may have prompted two of the negative board votes against the purchase until contract negotiations are resolved.

Since the reserve fund will probably be over $100M after the audit results are presented this month, the building purchase should not be held hostage to unresolved negotiations. The purchase of the building was placing “first things first.”

The building purchase will not add to the deficit, in fact, it should increase the district’s 90 day reserve balance. If the old building is demolished, some school district buildings have sat vacant for years, the district could sell the property or use the space to lease parking spaces to obtain more funds.

As far as any secrecy in consideration of the building’s purchase, the public elects our representatives to the various boards to represent us in these type transactions, especially purchasing property where speculation can raise prices, etc.

This board action serves the needs of the students and the staff because this purchase ultimately will save the district millions of dollars and provide better service for all concerned, including the taxpayers.

Despite the building being removed from the tax rolls and ongoing REA negotiations, demolition considerations, etc., the purchase was the fiscally responsible action to be taken by the Board.

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7 Comments

  1. Yes Ted, my kids might think its a good idea too. But in the mean time my wife must walk them to Kishwaukee school. They don’t mind that cars often fly by them at 50 mph. And that semi’s really couldn’t stop if one of them should trip and fall into the street. But who cares about the kids in the area? As long as the administration can kick back in a nice new building and be comfortable, what’s the problem.
    I like how decisions are made in this town. No one looks out for anyone but themselves. We can’t afford to keep Jackson open, or bus my kids there. But we can sure give Zion Development and CICS millions to bus their kids. And to hell with everyone else.
    I quess I will take that job with Halliburton after all. We might be cold in North Dakota, but my kids might have a descent school system, and live to tell about it.

    • Ted Biondo

      Sorry about the kids, gowader, but my dad drove me to school every morning to public and private schools and I or my wife drove our kids to public and private schools for years. Don’t put the blame on everyone else. The law says the taxpayers have to pay if the home is more than 1.5 miles from the school – closer than that, it’s the parent’s responsibility. The law also dictates what has to be paid for with charter schools also -it’s not just about looking out for oneself, it’s following the law.

      Now some parents are gripping that the taxpayers are not paying to drive their kids to the daycare centers even if it is out of the way. At some point it is the parents responsibility; where does it stop? The Admin Bldg. is still a good deal for the taxpayers! Taxpayers already spend approximately $13,500 per child – how much should we spend?

  2. There are great schools all over Rockford, none of them are public.

    • Ted Biondo

      Sam – I have been a critic of the RSD205 school system in some areas with the complicated connection between the teachers, students and parents – all are needed in the equation. However, the gifted school scored in the top 5 in the state with 100% meeting or exceeding state standards. Montessori, and other schools also do very well compared to even private schools. I even believe in vouchers, not just for scholastics but for parental choice, but gifted and the other schools are public schools and they do great. The gifted school also wins scholastic bowls against the private schools, all the time, etc. You can NEVER say NEVER, right?

  3. I am a former resident with kids who attended the gifted school (King at the time) and are now in public school in Wisconsin. I can say without qualification that the gifted program in Rockford was either as good as or better than the public school equivalent here.

    It is a gem for which RSD should be proud.

  4. readingmike94

    hey ted your slipping you were the 4th most read blog now number 7.

    • Ted Biondo

      readingmike 94 – thanks for noting that. I’m sorry, but I can’ t post multiple times a day like some of the bloggers who are employed by the paper. Sometimes I can’t get to it at all in a day. As long as I remain in the top 10, that’s fine with me.

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