Committee approves truancy ordinance

Rockford Public Schools District 205 has pledged $100,000 toward establishing a truancy hearing department, according to City of Rockford Education and Lifelong Learning Director Adam Smith.

Smith shared the information with Rockford City Council Codes and Regulations Committee members during their Aug. 14 meeting. Smith also said the United Way is allocating $80,000 to pay a hearing officer. He said the city hopes to implement the truancy program after Labor Day.

City Attorney John Gilberti asked the committee to approve the ordinance. Gilberti said rules could then be suspended to get it on the council floor next week.

Smith also noted the program will get $100,000 from state Rep. Chuck Jefferson’s (D-67) efforts, which is half of a $200,000 grant that the Boone/Winnebago Regional Office of Education received.

Gilberti said Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen stressed the county was on board. Christiansen said county officials haven’t ignored the truancy issue: “We’ve been talking about (truancy) for some time.”

The county is willing to support a countywide truancy ordinance, since students could congregate in places like Cherryvale and Machesney Park malls. Depending on the caseload, it could cost the county in excess of $50,000 a year.

According to Gilberti, Christiansen said he’d support a hearing officer plans to offer legislative support. The county is working on an ordinance nearly identical to Rockford’s.

Smith said meetings geared toward implementing the program are slated for Aug. 17 and 23.

From the Aug. 16-22, 2006, issue

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