Sunday, February 5, 2017

Time for Compliments...

This just happens to be one of those weeks where in the words of Peter Griffin, “Nothing is grinding my gears.” That is a good thing, right?! So, I am going to take this opportunity to compliment the fine employees of the Rome City School District. Our district is quickly moving in the way of PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports) which is a model that believes that complimenting and highlighting good behavior has better and more sustained effects on children than consequencing and highlighting negative behaviors. In honor of many of our schools moving this way, I want to publicly thank our staffs for everything that they do on a daily basis. On any given day and in any given building of our district you can find people from all walks of life and all specialties coming together in the best interest of kids. In August, I challenged our staff to become the district that every other district in New York State looks to as the standard and to change the negative perception that seems to cloud our community. As I've said and will repeat, it takes a while to turn around an aircraft carrier if you don't want to lose the contents on the deck. Change is tough and change is slow, but our staff is well on their way to making our goals a reality. By working together and promoting a "family" feel, they are on their way to being the pace-setters in our State. We have work to do and we won't back down from that work; but to see the smiles, enjoyment, and learning of our kids on a daily basis is simply amazing!! Today, I thank all of the employees who work every day to make our mission a reality and our goal attainable. Without all of you, our children would not have the opportunities that they do. As they say at RFA, "Knights Take Charge!" and that's exactly what our staff is doing!!

Strough Musical 

Looking for something to do this weekend? How about attending the Strough musical Singin' in the Rain at RFA!! The musical will run on Thursday, February 9; Friday, February 10; and Saturday, February 11 with all performances starting at 7:00 p.m. On Thursday only, there will be a family special admission price of $12 a family. All other performances will be $3 for students and $5 for adults. The students and staff have been working hard to make the magic happen and now it's almost time for curtain. Come on out and enjoy some great student talent!!

Committee of the Whole

The Board of Education has scheduled a meeting of the whole to be held this coming Thursday, February 9 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the District Office. The purpose of the additional meeting is to hold a finance committee meeting to discuss the 2017-2018 budget and to discuss which direction the district is going to go with regard to redistricting. The meeting will be broadcast via our website at as our regular Board meetings are usually broadcast.

SMART Schools Bond Update

You may recall that last school year the Board approved a plan called the SMART Schools Bond Act. This act provides the district with roughly $6.2 million in funding from the State to upgrade technology and/or pre-k facilities. The initial plan that was submitted to the State last year under the previous administration expended the entire $6.2 million in one shot and included a plan to implement 1:1 technologies for students in grades 5-12. One of the problems with that plan and the act is that the district has to front the money for the project and then be reimbursed by the State. Upon reviewing the plan, we withdrew to begin from scratch which allowed us to use various phases and change the plan to remove antiquated technologies from it. Currently, we are planning to move forward with the proposal and public presentation of phase 1, which will be an infrastructure upgrade throughout the district to handle more wireless devices at faster speeds. Once this phase is complete, the district will then use the reimbursement monies to fund the future phases of actually purchasing the student devices. This means instead of paying out $6.2 million of our money up front, we are expecting the budget impact to be roughly $2 million in the initial phase. In the end, we will still move toward improved classroom technologies for teachers and 1:1 devices for students. Stay tuned for the announcement of the exact date of the public hearing which is expected to occur in March or April of 2017.

RFA Auditorium Update

During the past several weeks, we have had multiple consultants in to review our concerns with the lighting system in the RFA auditorium. From electricians to theatre experts, we have narrowed down the issues and have been able to plan a course of action. Fortunately, it has been identified that there are no safety concerns in the room which is the most important aspect to rule out. Due to this, we are able to continue running events within the auditorium. While we have been able to get the system fully functioning, it has been determined that our light board has a mind of it’s own and will sometimes work and other times not. Replacing/repairing that is something we will take care of. The larger issue is that one of the three electrical racks (circuit breaker panel boxes for layman’s terms) appears to have a non- functioning module. This rack controls the house lights which means that the only way to turn them on and off is at the breaker. The good news is that we've been able to repair the fans that keep the breakers cool so they won’t trip. The bad news is that the module is roughly a $40,000 replacement. In the end, fortunately for us it is not the worst case scenario yet and it is safe to hold events and our students. I want to particularly thank our middle school and high school music staff for their patience and understanding as we sort all of this out. Their programs have been the most disrupted and they've been amazing at working through this together!!

Block 'R' Club Cereal Fundraiser

Just a reminder that from now until winter recess in February, the Block 'R' Club from RFA will be accepting donations of boxes of cereal at all athletic home games. This similar fundraiser in just a week's time last December brought in over 150 boxes of cereal for people in need over the holiday recess. In the coming weeks, please bring a box of cereal to home athletic contests in support of the Block 'R' Club.