Sunday, April 30, 2017

School Restructuring Update...

As you may know by now, the Board of Education voted last week to approve a restructuring of our elementary schools from a k-4 & 5-6 model to a k-6 model. During the past week, we continue to receive many questions regarding the transition. Each week, we will be using our automated email system to email any updates that we have to all of our current k-5 families. Also, we will continue to send home hard copies of updates on a monthly basis to ensure that the information is reaching our families. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue sending along any questions that you may have via email or telephone. We only ask that you please keep in mind that while we prepare for 2017-2018, our main focus remains on our students in the current academic year which could mean that answers to some questions may not have an immediate response. We continue to work through contractual and regulatory paperwork which will delay some of the information that we all seek. In the coming week, we intend to have a chart of streets and residence numbers available per school, a tentative plan for staffing the buildings, and a better draft of our transportation plan. In the meantime, we have a page on our website dedicated for new information related to the restructuring. It can be found here and I encourage you to view that page for any current information.   

Blue Pinky Swear Day

Sponsored by the Awareness Committee, the Rome Teacher Center, and the Rome City Schools; we are asking all schools to join us in the Blue Pinky Swearing to stand up against bullying day on Friday, May 5.  Inspired by Secret Deodorant's Mean Stinks campaign, students paint the pinky nail on their right hand blue to show that they stand against bullying at their school.  If you are willing to allow your student to take part, please have him/her paint their right hand pinky nail any shade of blue prior to coming to school on Friday, May 5. Please show your support for a kinder, more tolerant school, district, and city!  Our hope is that all students will take part and recognize the importance of this symbolic act.

Matilda Cuomo to Visit Rome

On Wednesday, May 3, Matilda Cuomo will be visiting Rome again to speak with both the individuals who have been mentoring our students throughout the year; as well as to use the Rome program as a model to strum up support for other districts throughout our region to partner in this amazing program. Thank you to the assistance of Frank DiBerardino (Community Member), Amanda Jones (Director of Counseling Services) and Jason Evangelist (Holland Patent Superintendent), the Rome program has been a huge success. We are honored that Mrs. Cuomo would like to visit our schools and program personally to both thank everyone, but also work to increase the program in our region.

RFA Travel Club

During the Spring break, the RFA Travel Club took their second out of country trip. This year, the group visited England, Scotland, and France. At each stop, the group represented both RFA and the Rome community with pride. The Travel Club is open to all students in the high school and they work year round to help raise funds to take their trip. Next year, the club is anticipating a trip to Italy and Greece. Any interested student should touch base with the club advisors or current students in the club to begin preparing for next year. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Home Stretch...

Spring break is officially past (unfortunately) which is generally a landmark in the education schedule for the year. With roughly 60 school days remaining, or ask a senior if you want the exact count, it will be a mad dash to the finish line in all schools. There are many events that will take place over the next 8 weeks within our schools including the State math assessments, AP exams at the high school, non-stop athletics, junior prom, senior ball, concerts galore, academic achievement ceremonies, and all culminating with RFA's graduation. The anticipation of the end of the school year can bring mixed emotions for many people, so please take time to have a conversation with your student if you notice any changes in behavior. Also, our school administration and staff are available to work together in the event that concerns arise. Likewise, staff can develop some level of anxiety as the end of there approaches for various reasons, so let's work together to keep everyone sharp for our kids. As I mentioned, the end of the year will be here before we know it and it is very easy to lose track of time with the myriad of events that are going to come at us. I can't help but think of that meme, "Keep calm and carry on!" We have made it to the home stretch team, now it's time to finish strong for our kids!!

Rotary Exchange Student

Each year the Rome Rotary Club welcomes a foreign student to our community for the school year. A key need for each exchange student is host families. Typically a student lives with three different families through the course of a year for about 3 1/2 months each – one from late August through Thanksgiving, one from Thanksgiving through mid-March, and one from then through the end of June or early July.

Our community life has been enriched by many students you may remember through the years – Mathilde Crampon from France, Gustavo Calderon from Ecuador, Sandy Li the year before from Taiwan, and many more.

Next year we will welcome a young man from Hungary. If your family would like to find out more about hosting, please contact Sam Pendergrast, who is the Youth Exchange Officer for the Rome Rotary Club, at 315-617-3567 or You can find out more about the Rotary Youth Exchange Program at Please talk to Sam Pendergrast before beginning an application to become a host family.

JP Morgan Corporate Challenge

The sun is shining (finally) and it's time to remind everyone of our annual JPMorgan Corp Run/Walk. The event is scheduled for June 6th at 6:25 p.m. in Liverpool, at Onondaga Lake Park. The run/walk is a 3.5 mile course and is open to any and all District employees. To register, please go online to Registration deadline is Thursday, May 11 and could be earlier if capacity is reached. When registering: click on 'Registration' in the left column, then click register in the white square. Next, scroll down to Rome City School District and click to register. The event is always a great time!  We offer car pooling for anyone interested in participating as well. JP Morgan gives money to corporations that participate, which adds incentive to boost our participation.  If we have enough participants signed up, then we can be in the 'running' to receive a Scholarship Award for our school district! Help us reach our goal this year and come out for a fun evening of running/walking. If you have any questions about the event, please contact Stacy Butcher at 

Rome Hospital Event

On Thursday, May 11th at 5:30 p.m., Rome Memorial Hospital will be hosting a ladies night out for educators at Teugega Country Club. The event, Wine Women & Wellness, is designed to allow people to indulge in an evening of wine and chocolate themed food pairings while learning about various health and wellness aspects from local professionals. Music and door prizes will also be available for all in attendance. If interested in attending, please call 315-337-5309 to make your reservation today!!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Budget Season...

On Thursday night, the Board of Education adopted a 2017-2018 proposed budget of $115,320,834 and a 0% tax levy increase for the Rome City School District. The proposed budget represents a 1.41% expenditure increase over the 2016-2017 approved budget. For this year, the District's tax cap was set at 1.98% which is the equivalent of  $645,640 in taxes that could have been levied. As mentioned, the Board has approved a 0% tax increase for the community. That will mean different things for your actual tax bill depending on your home's assessed value, STAR exemptions, and the State's equalization rates. A copy of the presentation can be found here: RCSD 2017-2018 Budget Presentation. In other budget news, the NY State budget was finally agreed to and released over the weekend as well. All school district's in the State did well and the Senate and Assembly are to be thanked for backing public education. In Rome, the increase in our Foundation Aid that was received will be used to reduce our fund balance allocation to help begin rebuilding our reserves, as has been discussed at our recent meetings. The District budget will be presented again at the May 4 budget hearing to be held at the District office beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Board of Education - Open Seats

This year, there are three (3) open seats on the Board of Education. All three of these seats will be available on July 1, 2017. The term limit for each open seat is three years, expiring on June 30, 2020. Interested candidates must submit a petition to the District on or before April 26, 2017. Completed petitions must include at least 100 qualified signatures and should be returned to the business office of the District at 409 Bell Road. Petitions for the available seats are also available in the Business Office of the Rome City School District. Any questions regarding the Board of Education open seats can be directed to the District's business office, or Board of Education President, Mr. Paul Fitzpatrick.

Best Community for Music Education

This past week, the Rome City School District received word that we were once again named a National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Best Community for Music Education. This distinction is a tribute to the amazing work that our student musicians consistently provide to our community. Along with that, our entire music faculty is to be commended for their efforts in fostering growth and enthusiasm of our young musicians. Lastly, thank you to all of our community members who support the arts and allow for our District to provide the opportunities for our kids that we do. Congratulations!!

JV Winterguard - State Champions

Last weekend in Albany, NY, our Junior Varsity Winter Colorguard won the District's first State Championship in this activity. Winter colorguard is an activity that has been in existence since the 1960's and is an offshoot of the marching band world. The winter colorguards in Rome however,  are relatively new only beginning competition 2 years ago. Across NY State, over 50 different groups participated in the competition. Our JV guard, comprised of 15 students from grades 6-10, won the gold medal in the Novice Class with a score of 66.68. Congratulations to all of our student performers on a wonderful season!!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Overcoming the Negative...

Have you noticed recently (over the past few decades at least) that the human race has developed into a group of pessimists? It just seems that whenever something is heard, the human mind always looks at the negative first, or worst case scenario. Or, when someone has a good or even decent idea, there are always people there to say that it can't be done. When did humans devolve into a society of naysayers and status quo lovers? I get the feeling sometimes that wherever you turn you are faced with the proverbial "sky is falling" clan. Sure, we have all been in that club at some point in time or another. I just succumb to their influence a few months ago when issues began to arise in the RFA auditorium. I let the moment and the influence get to me. This was frustrating for me only because I generally try to pride myself in maintaining a positive approach and pushing the envelope of creativity, which are the antithesis of negativity. Regardless, it happens to all of us from time to time and for some reason more and more people seem to falling into the trap of status quo and seeing the negative in things more than the positive. I've been searching for the magic trick to help people see more positive in all that everyone does, as well as being more optimistic about our future. Many may read this message and assume that I am speaking about our own little community, alas I am not. This "disease" has infiltrated all communities across our nation. It's not New Year's so a resolution isn't in order; but maybe a challenge is! I challenge you to stop reacting to things without thinking about all possibilities and purposes before making a decision. I would argue that you will find yourself being more positive and optimistic simply by slowing down your thought process. Stephen Covey once said, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." This cannot be more true than when trying to change our mindset to become more positive. Overcome the negative, our future will thank you for it!!  

RFA Musical

The 2017 Rome Free Academy Musical, Grease, opens this week!! Performances will be Thursday, April 6, Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8, all beginning at 7:30 p.m. Pre-sale tickets are $7 and tickets at the door are $8. All tickets are general admission. On Friday, stop by early and enjoy a chicken riggie dinner held in the RFA cafeteria from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for $10. Sounds like a great date night!!

FBLA Competes in State Finals

The Rome Free Academy Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) team has qualified for the State Competition next weekend, April 5-7 in Rochester, NY. The students pictured below all advanced due to their teamwork and continuous success this season. They will be competing with other FBLA members from throughout NY on various business topics. The RFA members include: Ruqiyah Shaik, Reilly O'Shaughnessy, Erika Rizzo, Jessica Strzepek, Kaylei Wood, Robert Hojnacki, Deven Desai, Tristan Hunzinger, Billy Tallarino, Cameron Kilpatrick, Massimo Mattacola and Josh Wood. The are led by faculty advisor, Mary Campbell.

Commissioner's Advisory Panel

The New York State Education Department’s Commissioner’s Advisory Panel for Special Education Services is currently seeking letters of interest and resumes for the constituency “Parents or Guardians of Children with Disabilities” for the central New York region.  The Panel functions in an advisory capacity to the Office of Special Education and advises the Governor, Legislature and Commissioner on unmet needs in the education of students with disabilities. Members are appointed for a three-year term by the Commissioner of Education.  The Commissioner’s Advisory Panel holds three meetings per year in Albany. Members serve without compensation but their reasonable and necessary expenses for attending meetings and performing duties are reimbursed. Individuals from the Central New York region who are interested in becoming a parent member of the Commissioner’s Advisory Panel for Special Education Services should send a letter of interest and resume no later than April 30, 2017, to:

New York State Education Department
Office of Special Education
89 Washington Avenue
Room 309 EB
Albany, NY 12234
Attention:  Sandra Cote

For additional information regarding the Commissioner’s Advisory Panel for Special Education Services, please visit the New York State Education Department’s website at: may be directed to Sandra Cote, Associate in Education of Children with Disabilities, at 518-473-2878, or