Sunday, April 15, 2018

Making A Choice...

Every day I am engaged in conversation with a colleague, parent, service provider, vendor, or even a student where when boiled down, the premise of every conversation comes to the need to make a decision. Most conversations are built around information sharing to help someone make a decision about something. However, even conversations that may be one-sided venting sessions are also steeped in the need to make a decision. Being an adult is certainly one of the most challenging tasks in life, but being an adult in the educational industry is perhaps the most challenging profession that one can enter in today's society. Every day is littered with decisions that are made in a split second that will effect a child in some way or another. Whether you are an administrator, teacher, custodian, teacher assistant, secretary, etc.; you are required to make decisions each day. What makes the decision challenging is that the world around you thinks they know what the correct decisions should be. As I've said before, every member of American society has experience within the walls of a school and therefore believes that they have the knowledge necessary to make a school/classroom work. Working in a school today is challenging because every decision made by anyone in the school is met with scrutiny, from someone. Social media has created a world where people think they can say anything they want about a topic, most often with having less than 10% of the real information they need to support their commentary. What is the result of that? People making more work and problems for others simply because they want to vent. In my daily conversations, the people that I converse with often will bring everything back to the question: Do you want to be a part of the solution? Everyone knows that there are things wrong with every faction of society. However, is complaining and venting about everything without having the best information or at least providing an alternative that could be better the answer? I often hear the phrase, "Be a part of the solution or get out of the way." I guess that's easy, but is it fair? Everyone has their own right to make decisions and choices, and if an individual chooses to be negative and not agree with things, that's their right. But, do they have the right to attempt to bring others down around them or spread misinformation? I'm not sure about that. What I am sure about is that every day we are all faced with the opportunity to make a choice. Regardless of what choices we made yesterday, each day brings with it the opportunity to be a part of the solution, or perpetuate negativity. Regardless of the choice you make today, tomorrow is another opportunity to make a better choice! 

Student Dismissal

In recent weeks, there have been several incidents during dismissal of our elementary students where parents arrive at the school well before the dismissal time and want to simply wait inside the building for their children. Unfortunately, allowing groups of parents into the buildings at the end of the day is not only an unsafe measure for all students, it is also causing disruptions and distractions in the buildings. Several buildings have been adjusting their dismissal procedures in recent weeks and some of the changes include not allowing families into the building prior to the actual dismissal of students. While I understand that this can be upsetting to families, please understand that it is the safest practice possible and is necessary to maintain a safe environment all the way until the end of the day for our students and staff. Also, please be reminded that students should not be signed out early from school without a valid reason in compliance with NYSED regulations. Finally, when signing students out of school, you should be required to provide identification so that the school officials can ensure that students are leaving school with an authorized adult. While we understand that some adjustments in these practices can be cumbersome and 'annoying'; please know that we work to constantly improve our safety measures and adopt best practices related to student safety. Thank you for your understanding.

Career Fair

On Tuesday, April 17, the Rome City School District in conjunction with the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Career Fair for students in grades 9, 10, and 11. The concept, born through discussions of the Chamber Educational Committee, aims to provide our students with opportunities to learn about careers as they enter a phase in their lives when they need to start making decisions about what students want to do and need to know more about how to get there. In total, over 50 local industries will be represented at RFA to provide their insights to our students. Thank to the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce Education Committee and all organizations that have helped to make this opportunity a reality for our students.

Stokes Fundraiser

On Tuesday, April 17, Stokes Elementary School will be holding a fundraiser at Texas Roadhouse in New Hartford. The fundraiser is an effort to help students attend a field trip in Niagara Falls. Patrons at Texas Roadhouse that evening simply need to mention that they are supporting Stokes Elementary school and Texas Roadhouse will donate 10% of all proceeds back to the students. The offer is good for dine-in and take-out orders. Thank you in advance for supporting the students of Stokes!

Unused Contingency Day

Each year, schools are required to meet a minimum of 180 school days (5 of which can be Superintendent's conference days and the Regents Rating Day). Our current calendar allows for 185 staff days and 180 student days scheduled. Within that calendar, one day at the k-6 level was designated for parent/teacher conferences and one day at the 7-12 level was designated for additional professional development. That leaves us with a total of one less student day than desired. Due to the full day conferences and additional professional development at the secondary level, the District began the year with a total of 4 contingency days in the event that there was a need for closure due to weather or emergency. Having been through the worst of it, we still have one unused contingency day, which we are not required to use, but most places do. This year, as long as there are no more weather related closures prior to the date, we plan to use our last contingency day on Friday, April 20. Traditionally, these days may be taken in May, however there are students taking AP examinations through most of the month, so we are opting to use our day in April. A detailed letter will also be sent home this week. 

Go Home Early Drill

Each year, schools in New York State are required to conduct what is called a "go home early" drill. In our region, schools attempt to have this event occur on the same day to minimize disruptions for our local BOCES. This year, the go home early drill will be occurring on Thursday, April 19. For this drill, students will be dismissed from school 15 minutes earlier than regularly scheduled. Please make sure that necessary arrangements are made for students to arrive home from school earlier on that day.