RI school board candidates discuss funding, test scores


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Posted Online: April 04, 2013, 11:30 pm
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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.com
ROCK ISLAND — Candidates seeking the four open seats on the Rock Island-Milan school board addressed a variety of topics Thursday night.

All but one have board experience. David K. Rockwell, James E. Bishop, James E. Veasey are current board members and Earl Strupp Jr. is a past member. Kevin R. Matter Jr. is a newcomer to the field.

All but Mr. Matter attended Thursday's forum, addressing everything from improving elementary school test scores to funding and charter schools.

Most of the four candidates attending have children who went through or now attend Rock Island schools. They all stressed the importance of education and said the district provides a good one. They also praised the faculty, staff and administration, stating, generally, the district is striving in the right direction.

But they also said there was more to be done. An achievement gap remains between minority students and others, and late state funding is requiring regular cuts of school budgets.

"We're never at a point where we should be satisfied with what we're doing," Mr. Rockwell said. The achievement gap has been a persistent problem, he said. Among the things that need to be done is to show students and their families that education is important.

Mr. Strupp stressed the importance of instilling a love of learning in the students, saying it was part of the answer to many issues.He asked the audience to think of the teacher who most engaged them.

"It's the teacher; that's the key to it," he said.

Mr. Veasey said he believed it is possible to meet the challenges faced by the Rock Island schools. He said parents need to be more involved and the district needs to provide tools that help its best teachers and mentors to help those needing improvement.

"I think we can get it done," he said.

Mr. Bishop said work is being done on the district's curriculum, with changes coming in how students are tested.

"We are a work in progress," he said. "The school board addresses this every second."

He also said late state funding has been a chronic problem for schools across Illinois, forcing districts to save money wherever they can. Cuts within the district, he said, aremade with the best interest of students in mind.

His fellow candidates agreed, withMr. Rockwell calling the cuts "painful" and Mr. Veasey saying the district is trying to focus on cuts that hurt the least.

"The school board must hold its nose and vote for things that will hut the children the least," Mr. Strupp said.

The four also said selling the former Audubon Elementary School at 2601 18th Ave. to Fareway Stores Inc. was a good decision.

About 20 people attended the forum, which was cohosted by the Rock Island County NAACP and the Community Caring Conference at the Martin Luther King Center in Rock Island.

















 



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  Today is Friday, Aug. 22, the 234th day of 2014. There are 131 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The ferry boat, Rock Island, having been put in good order at the boat yard is now making her regular trips, much to the gratification of those who have to cross the river.
1889 -- 125 years ago: W.J. Gamble, for many years superintendent of the Moline & Rock Island railway, leased the Fourth Avenue Hotel and renovated and refurnished it throughout.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Pending the building of new public schools or additions to the present ones to provide adequate room for all the children, the board of education decided that pupils younger than 6 years old would not be accepted in Rock Island schools.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The fifth annual New Windsor Fair and Horse show, which has been delayed for two days because of unfavorable weather, got off to a new start last night. The parade was held this morning.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island County Fair and Rodeo will celebrate its silver anniversary this year. The fair opens Tuesday and will run through Saturday and offers entertainment and activity for young and old.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Earl Hanson School, Rock Island, joins the Program to Assist Latch Key Student, which aids working parents. PALS is a before and after school program for grades 1-6 in certain Rock Island public and private schools.




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