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Superintendent Dr. Lawrence Gives State of Schools Address

On September 7, 2021, Superintendent Dr. Lawrence gave his State of the Schools Address for the 2021-2022 school year at the joint Rock Island Rotary Club/Rock Island Kiwanis Club meeting at the QC Botanical Center. 
 
Dr. Lawrence started the address off by recapping last school year and sharing data.
 
2020-2021 School Year
 
RIMSD#41 saw a lot of positive growth trends! RIMSD#41 saw increased growth in both ELA (English Language Arts) and math on the IAR (Illinois Assessment of Readiness). In the past four years, the district has grown from 14% to 21% in math; and 16% to 22% in ELA.
  • The district’s growth percentile in ELA and math on IAR matched the state’s growth at 50 percent. The growth percentile for RIMSD is higher compared to other Illinois schools in the Metro Quad Cities.
  • The state report card shows that RIMSD#41 is growing at a faster rate than the rest of the state. Over the last four years, the district has grown by 6 percent in ELA, 7 percent for math, compared to the state average, which showed growth by only 2 percent in ELA and 1 percent for math.
  • From 2018 to 2019, the district saw an increase of four percentage points in ELA for the high school SAT.

Dr. Lawrence mentioned how reviewing the entire 2019-2020 AND 2020-2021 school year will prove to be challenging, as many of our assessments and state testing were put on hold due to the pandemic. The district is working with the state to determine how assessments and testing will look for this year.

In preparation for the 2020-2021 school year, RIMSD ordered more Chromebook devices as there were still students who didn’t have a device. The school district also purchased about 20 Cradlepoint Routers to distribute throughout the community. The routers will enable students to connect to the Internet wirelessly with their Chromebook devices and have been placed at each school building and several housing additions and community areas in Rock Island and Milan. We also created a unique partnership with Mediacom which allowed our ROCKfi wireless to be streamed through local Mediacom hotspots - over 70 - across Rock Island. This helped us provide an internet connection to students in those hard-to-reach areas. We also met with the City and arranged for our Rockfi to be broadcasted through their hotspots as well - including the library locations.

It was also important to reach out to our students who had Individualized Education Plans and our PPS staff and counselors worked hard to make sure all of the IEP guidelines were followed.

Along with handing our internet routers and Chromebooks to students during the pandemic, the RIMSD#41 also provided the following:

  • Meals - Over 26,000 meal kits were distributed to students from August 2020 - March 2021. 
  • Google Sessions - Over 1,500 active Google Classrooms per day.
  • Support - Outreach & support to over 1,200 students with individual Education Plan

Despite all the pandemic threw at our school district, Dr. Lawrence shared the accomplishments of some of those milestones in sports and end-of-year celebrations.

Points of Pride:

  • In the spring semester, some of our elementary students were able to participate in the Young Artists at the Figge exhibition.
  • Earl Hanson Elementary School Celebrated its 50th birthday.
  • We had a Rocks Track and Field athlete, Samson Shukuru, receive first place in the long jump at state, and our wrestling team won the 15-team Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Class 2A regional tournament in June.
  • Recent RIHS graduate Ravon Johnson Taylor was awarded the McKenzie Foundation & Uncharted Learning 2021 GritGrant award. He was chosen as one of four recipients from across the country!
  • On June 5, 381 Rock Island High School seniors graduated! Those individuals earned over $3 million in college scholarships and funding, devoted thousands of volunteer hours in the community through the National Honor Society, and led sports teams to victory.
     
2021 - 2022 School Year
Looking ahead to this school year Dr. Lawrence talked about the current COVID-19 mitigations that are in place - mask mandate, social distancing, cleaning, and sanitizing. The enrollment is a little over 6,100, which is below our enrollment last year. We continue to become more diverse in our student population. Children eligible for English Language Learner services is at about 700. The district continues to offer free/reduced meals to all students as we still fall under the percentage levels required for the Community Eligibility Program grant.
 
Construction Projects
Dr. Lawrence talked about the $2 million in construction projects that took place over the summer of 2020. He also shared about current construction projects going on in the district. 
 
  • Washington Jr. High School - $2.1 million in renovations.
  • Rock Island High School - a ribbon cutting was held to break ground on the $9.8 million renovation/expansion project at the high school.
  • Administration Center -  The $7.6 million project will include 15,000 square feet for administration offices, 15,000 square feet for warehouse space, and 5,000 square feet for a production kitchen.

Budget:

From a budget perspective, the district has the 2021-22 tentative budget with an anticipated $71.89 million in revenues and $71.84 million in expenditures. The big piece is rounds two and three of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding that will add $32 million to the final budget.

The district has earmarked money in several areas COVID-related - PPE, sanitation, technology devices, and curriculum/social-emotional learning support. We are also able to use CARES money to improve the air quality in our school buildings and the board approved money to go toward the Guaranteed Energy Saving Program to upgrade and replace several rooftop units in the school district. Thanks to this money we are able to accelerate the replacement of rooftop united by several years instead of waiting to use proceeds from the 1% Sales Tax Revenue.

RIM 2025: A Pipeline to a Productive Future

Dr. Lawrence briefly shared the district's strategic plan - "RIM 2025: A Pipeline to a Productive Future."

The district's strategic plan RIM 2025 has high expectations of all staff members and embodies everything we do as a public school district.

The theme “Pipeline to a Productive Future” stems from the various facets and definitions centered on the importance of pipelines. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a pipeline as a course of individual advancement or development especially to fill organizational needs. In finance, the term pipeline is used to describe progress toward a long-term goal that involves a series of stages; and in the world of oil, gas, and liquids, a pipeline delivers energy from where it’s produced to where it is turned into useful fuel for our community.

Our educational pipeline analysis conveys the importance of viewing student progress as a continuum leading from PreK through 12 education into postsecondary education, the completion of a college degree and/ or start of a successful career in a chosen field. Ultimately we are preparing students for life.

The Pipeline to a Productive Future Starts in RIMSD #41!

 

 
state of schools
 
Dr. Lawrence ended his presentation with a video featuring Rock Island High Students who share what their experience has been like in the RIMSD#41. Watch Below!