School district opts out of Park District partnership
By Matt Nestor
After much debate publicly and privately, the Rockford Public School District has decided not to participate in a partnership that would have seen the Rockford Park District take control of sports programs at all levels.
Under the proposal, all programs would still be run by the schools, but the operating and logistics, such as scheduling of games and location of games, would have been run by the Park District.
After poring through the numbers, and with a deadline approaching for next year’s budget, it was determined at this time that there were not enough savings involved in making the switch.
Early budget estimates were projected that the school district would spend nearly $3 million in operating costs next year for sports programs. Under the Park District proposal, it could cost as much as $2.4 million to run the program.
Now, school administrators are working on other cuts that can be made in the sports program for next year, which could see changes to some sports programs at different levels, but cuts that could save $700,000 or more.
“Our financial circumstances still dictate that Rockford Public Schools explores any and all partnerships that might allow us to provide nonacademic services more affordably,” District 205 Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield said. “We were attempting to break new ground in Illinois, and that was recognized across the state. Our work with the Park District continues on many other fronts. At the same time, we are finalizing plans to administer athletics at a reduced cost so that competitive sports can continue without placing an undue burden on our budget for 2011-2012.”
Despite the suspension of talks, the plan was met with acceptance by the Illinois High School Athletic Association. And with that success, these could be talks that are revisited for future seasons.
“We’re not disappointed at all in the outcome,” Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke said. “I think this is the beginning and not the end.”
From the March 16-22, 2011, issue
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