Winnebago County News Briefs

Chronicle Media

Rockford school bus drivers, nutrition service workers and paraprofessionals will begin a three-day strike action on March 15. (AFSCME photo)


RPS outlines plans in case of employee strike

Rockford Public Schools plan to remain open in the event of a strike by three labor union this week.

The district said most transportation will not be provided but breakfasts and lunches will be served at district schools.

Paraprofessionals, nutrition service workers and bus drivers have announced intentions to strike on March 15.

“We know that we need these employees to effectively and efficiently run our schools,” said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. “But we also need to do what’s best for students. Keeping our schools open and providing a structured, safe learning environment for our students is our priority.”

Transportation services will continue for students who ride a Sunrise bus to or from school. Transportation for after-school activities – including athletics – will not be provided.

Athletic directors and coaches will provide information about alternative transportation to and from games. Schools will open one hour early to help accommodate parents/guardians who are able to drop off their children before work. Schools will dismiss at their regularly scheduled time, and students should be picked up as scheduled.

School meals will differ from what’s on the published menu; students can expect more prepackaged meals, sandwiches and breakfast kits. Each meal will comply with the USDA guidelines and cater to students’ dietary and allergy restrictions.

Services provided by paraprofessionals will be provided by other certified, trained staff. Students with special needs will be the priority, with a focus on students’ safety and personal care needs.

The district said additional updates will be shared as they’re available.


Jehovah’s Witness meeting returns after 10-year absence

The annual Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses will return to Rockford this summer after a 10-year absence.

This three-weekend gathering will be held at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, July 28-30, Aug. 4-6 and Aug. 11-13, 2017 according to an announcement last week from the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

The group last held this convention in Rockford in 2006.

The meetings are expected to draw approximately 15,000 attendees who are expected to visit from Milwaukee, Madison, Dubuque, Davenport, Kenosha, Racine and the Chicagoland area.

The estimated economic impact of the convention is nearly $589,500 and more than 4,500 room nights are anticipated to be filled during the three weekends. 

“After a 10-year absence this will be the ninth time we’ve hosted the convention and we are working diligently with the convention organizers, staff at the BMO Harris Bank Center and other local area businesses to ensure our guests have a memorable experience while they’re here,” said Lindsay Arellano, Director of Sales and Servicing. 

The event theme this year is “Don’t Give Up” and features several talks and videos that teach Scriptural lessons. Interviews and re-enactments show how to apply Bible principles to every day life. The event is open to the public. There is no admission cost and no collections are held.

All programs begin at 9:20 a.m. and end at various times in the afternoon. A complete schedule including more information about the Jehovah’s Witnesses can be found at

Park District partners with inclusion project

The National Inclusion Project has partnered again with the Rockford Park District to create an inclusive environment where children with and without disabilities can play, learn, and laugh together.

As part of the partnership, the National Inclusion Project provides the Let’s ALL Play program model, training, expertise, annual Power of Play Conference, and a wide network of inclusion experts ready to problem solve and share best practices on ensuring that no child sits on the sidelines.

The Rockford Park District is one of the select organizations that the National Inclusion Project has chosen to partner with for a third year.  “We are excited to continue our work with the Therapeutic Recreation department to enhance the inclusive opportunities for the children in this community,” says Nick Leisey, National Inclusion Project Executive Director.

The partnership will provide training, expertise, and an award of $5,000. The grant will allow the Therapeutic Recreation department to hire two staff members this summer to provide inclusion serves at Summer Blast.

Inclusion within the Rockford Park District means individuals with disabilities are welcome to participate in the same recreation programs and activities as their peers. Reasonable accommodations are provided to enable an individual’s successful participation in a program.


Creators invited to Mini-Maker Fair

Rock Valley College’s Computers & Information Systems is partnering up with Barnes & Noble CherryVale Mall for a Mini-Maker Faire to celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself mindset.

The free event will be held on March 30 from 6-9 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble store at CherryVale, 7200 Harrison Ave, Rockford, IL 61112.

Tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyisst, engineers, science club members, authors, artists, students, entrepreneurs, or makers of any kind are invited to learn from each other, hear from the experts and work on projects.

Chuck Konkol, Rock Valley College CIS Faculty, will lead sessions in coding with robots, the minute of code, and telepresence with “DESTIR the Robot”! Featuring: LittleBits, Lego, Magformers, Ozobots, DESTIR, KUBI, and more.

–Winnebago County News Briefs–