Enrollment is growing in the Rock Island schools, and for the first time in decades, the budget is balanced. That's according to Superintendent Reginald Lawrence during his first State of the Schools Address Tuesday to a joint meeting of the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs.
He says enrollment is now nearly 5,800, and up 40 students from last year, and he hopes it continues to grow. And for the balanced budget, Dr. Lawrence credits the state, and its new funding method.
"That means you're starting the year where you need to be. And so we're excited about that but we know we couldn't do it without evidence based funding - that piece has been huge. And it's going to take a few years for us to benefit fully from it but it's been great for us thus far. "
Evidence based funding means more state aid goes to Illinois districts with greater financial need.
Attendance is now at 93 per cent in the Rock Island schools, and chronic truancy has fallen, but Lawrence wants to improve those numbers this year.
"We want to challenge all our families to miss five days of school or less because we know when students miss 10 per cent of school, which equates to two days a month or 18 days a year, and students don't know how that impacts them, so we really want to focus on attendance and how important it is."
And thanks to the local option sales tax for schools, the district has been able to fund a variety of building improvements, including more secure entrances. And lowered property taxes by five cents, or 50 dollars a year, for the average homeowner.