Op-Ed: Investing in Schools is Investing in our Kids

Strong and successful education is vital for economic self-sufficiency of the individual and economic growth of the community and nation. In greater Rochester area we have Rochester Community Schools (RCS). Strong schools are reflective of a strong housing market and vibrant neighborhoods. City of Rochester Hills and City of Rochester have been recognized in the top best cities within their population range. One of the key reasons that contributed to the recognition is great teachers and good school system which attracts families to move into the community.

On November 03, 2015, there is a proposal on the ballot for approval of $185 million bond renewal to fund updates (per RCS website):

  1. Improving student safety and schools security
  2. Establishing permanent spaces for pre-kindergarten, adult and special education
  3. Upgrading technology and technology infrastructure
  4. Improving classroom and school interiors and refreshing classroom furniture
  5. Improving playgrounds, school sites, and athletic facilities
  6. Addressing critical needs in roofs and in electrical and mechanical areas, and
  7. Replacing school buses as they age.

This request for bond renewal will not increase taxes and gives the opportunity for RCS to invest in critical needs and improvement. I am very supportive of this approach. While I was on City Council I advocated for and supported the capturing of expiring millages for creating a millage for local road improvement and reconstruction. With the approval from residents it gave us the opportunity to create a 1.2 mill which generates approximately $3.75 million a year in revenue; with additional funds from state the city now has the capacity to allocate $5 million annually for local road repairs, maintenance and replacement. In my final year on Council, this opportunity was used to plan for 2014, 2015 and 2016, to invest in our roads, which is critical for retaining higher housing values.

Rochester Community Schools have been successful, overall, in maintaining a good education system. The three high schools, Rochester Adams, Rochester High and Stoney Creek, per US News and World Report, were recently ranked in the top 30 high schools within Michigan, and our teachers have been ranked as some of the best in State of Michigan.

My own daughter benefitted from the opportunity of RCS kids able to go to International Academy. Our public schools are worthy of Investment. Investing in our local schools and helping them to continue to succeed year after year is an investment in our kids. The investment in right technology that can be used in classrooms is essential for our kids to compete not only at the local level but at national and global level. It is important we invest in teachers and classrooms. In some schools teachers are using their own funds to provide for paper and supplies in the classroom. Programs are either being cut off or having families to pay making it difficult for kids of families who are struggling economically to receive a well-rounded experience.

Public school systems take on a major responsibility in any community. They strive not only to provide best education but create an opportunity for children with special needs. I recently met a teacher at Stoney Creek High School who teaches kids with Autism. I learned a lot from her and was very impressed by her, and thanked her for the commitment to teach kids with special needs. The development of a successful education system requires active engagement from parents, teachers, COMMUNITY, Community Colleges, Universities, and businesses. Public schools should have the ability to expand offerings in skilled trades and summer internships in partnership with Chambers, businesses, government and non-profits. Every student should receive quality career guidance before leaving high school.  By providing students with 21st century skills and the tools, we can effectively equip them to be a part of a strong, successful workforce that can fill 21st Century jobs.

Ravi Yalamanchi

Candidate for Mayor – Rochester Hills

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