Sunday, May 4, 2008

Say Yes to Rockford Bond

There is a $46 million bond issue on Tuesday's ballot in Rockford that deserves approval. The money will expand RPS's sports facilities as well as important investments in academic facilities and technology. Since the bond comes when an old millage is expiring, there will be no increase in local taxes.

The GR Press opposes the bond, saying it should have been split between sports and academics. If past performance is any guide, this would have almost guaranteed that one side would have lost. What we don't know is which one.

Rockford is a sports powerhouse. The State Championships sign on the way into town is too long to read and is a testament to the district's successes. Friday nights in the Fall bring thousands into the bleachers and local support is huge.

At the same time, Rockford receives Over $1,000 less in operating funds per student than East Grand Rapids and Forest Hills, the two districts with which it competes for students and teachers. Given the severe limits placed by Proposition A on school finances, Rockford has to operate one huge high school rather than splitting into two, and there's not enough money to offer many of the innovative programs that the wealthier schools can afford.

This bond issue will help both sports and academics. If it was split, my guess is that sports would pass and academics would fail. Merging them is an investment that makes sense both politically and financially. The GR Press should recognize that long term investments are what this county needs to dig out of the slump we are in.

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