Last Tuesday evening we had over 200 people attend a farewell open house at the Academy Building. We honored the past and looked fondly on our children's future. Among those who attended were alumni, former teachers, board members (past and present) and administrators of the Academy Building. The gathering was one to remember as we all shared in the feeling of pride in either serving at, or attending this school as a student; we all felt proud to be part of this community that relentlessly puts kids first in so many ways—including their education.
This past week our high school students won on the scoreboard (gymnastics won sectionals and qualified for the state meet; we had an individual state wrestling champ; girls basketball won regionals; we dominated at solo-ensemble and at mock trials; and boys basketball won a share of the conference title.
As I write this column, weather has caused the School District of River Falls to cancel school seven days this winter and there certainly remains a few more weeks of Mother Nature's wrath. Our district really appreciates the parent and community support and patience with our decisions to date. Through this column I will share that there really is no crystal ball used for making these decisions, yet there are a few rules we follow.
The speed of trust is often influenced by transparency and promises kept. With that in mind, I will share some short and long-term strategies employed by our Board of Education in their commitment to be good stewards of taxpayer money. Last April residents of the River Falls school community went to the polls and supported two referendum questions. Prior to the April vote our district explained the total annual cost of both referendum questions would be $50 per $100,000 home. By now, property owners can confirm that tax impact statement as being accurate.
Developing every student's potential to excel as responsible, productive, global citizens is one tall task, yet this is the core of our school district mission. Striving toward the fulfillment of this mission requires innovation and a personalized approach to teaching and learning. It requires a forward-thinking staff collaborating in a safe and nurturing environment.
Around 1920 representatives of the National Education Association and the American Legion met to develop joint support for the purpose of seeking ways to generate public support for education. Effectively, the conventions of both organizations adopted resolutions of support for a national effort to raise public awareness of the importance of education. The first observance of American Education Week occurred in 1921, and now is always celebrated between Veterans Day and the week of Thanksgiving.
This past week, while I was watching a news report about the gut-wrenching and horrific shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue, the reporter explained that the neighborhood was literally, "Mr. Rogers' neighborhood." It is where he use to live. This year is the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the children's television show that taught lessons about, well, being a good neighbor. I saw the irony of all that Fred Rogers taught vs. the deaths resulting from this Pittsburgh shooting, as well the irony to our current national strife.
The School District of River Falls is hosting a Town Hall meeting to discuss school safety matters with our community at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 in the high school auditorium. All parents and community members are welcome and encouraged to attend. The Town Hall-style meeting will include a brief presentation of existing district safety measures to be followed by a panel of school officials and local police department representatives responding to audience questions and/or suggestions.
Monday evening, Jan. 15, the School District of River Falls Board of Education approved resolutions to outline specific details of an April 3 referendum in which voters will be asked to approve two questions related to facility improvements. • A $45.86 million set of capital improvements projects involving short and long-term needs at all district facilities.
In February 2015 the School District of River Falls collaborated with 80 citizens to establish the framework for a new five-year District Strategic Plan that became known as "Renewing Our Promise" (2015-20). As part of this vision, our community put forth a call for the establishment of a long-range facility master plan. To continue our community collaboration, the district is asking for citizen input on a facility survey released this week.