Sunday, December 9, 2018

More Than a Facelift...

By now, you may know that the District has recently released some information about an upcoming Capital Project referendum. You may also recall that for the past few years, we have been working on determining the best way to correct some of the structural issues at Rome Free Academy. During the two years of developing some ideas (as well as making sure needed work such as the roof at RFA, flashings that were omitted from the original build, electrical issues in the auditorium, and underutilized spaces due to changes in education over the years gets addressed); we have successfully hired a new architect, hired a construction management firm to help manage the project, and begun to work collaboratively to develop an educational and project plan that is both innovative and cost effective. Staley is our last elementary school to be renovated, and unfortunately, it needs more than a renovation. The building rests in a federal flood plain and as you know from the fall, it is completely saturated with water from years of flooding. The interior walls of the building do not meet current building codes (which could be why the District hasn't given the building a full renovation in 60 years). In order to do any work inside the building, the entire building would have to taken down and rebuilt. To rebuild on the current site, it could require the District to raise the entire property by 5 feet (so it is no longer in a flood plain) and then build the school. Other Districts in New York that have had to do this recently have spent roughly $75 million on a similar project. Since that amount is not even reasonable for us, our proposal: Build a new elementary school on the site of the former Rome Free Academy (Turin Road). A new building on this location could incorporate the existing structure which already has the most un-aidable spaces in any school (gymnasiums and cafeteria). This would all be contingent on the aid-ability that would be approved by the State Education Department and with their agreement that Staley is not worth the investment, in it's current location. 

Moving the elementary school would also require a new approach for our athletic facilities. Currently, the stadium complex where it is located is not an aid-able facility because it is not connected to a school and utilized for instruction. Therefor, any improvements made to the Turin Road site could require 100% funding by taxpayers or the general fund; if the State Education Department is not willing to provide any support. We know that the turf and track need to be replaced, and the stadium itself is reaching the end of it's useful life. During our last building condition survey two years ago, our former architect noted that the physical structure itself was failing and was in need of either demolition and rebuilding, our jacking up and reinforcement. Our proposal: Build a brand new, state of the art, athletic facility/FABLAB at Rome Free Academy. This facility would include a new stadium (football, soccer, field hockey), new baseball stadium, new softball complex, refurbished tennis courts with lights, an athletic office facility with new RFA Hall of Fame, and an indoor field house for athletics and drone engineering. The project would also include increased parking at RFA. Again, the entire proposal is contingent upon SED approval and aid-ability. There is a lot to determine before knowing for certain what can happen.

While we don't know if the State Education Department will approve our thoughts, or if it is something that will fit within our allowances; we have begun the work to improve our two facilities in most need. To date, we have had preliminary meetings with SED and hope to meet face to face in the next two weeks so that we can work our the financial elements on our end. We will have a completed scope of work for the public before the end of January (which may be very different than these proposals depending on SED and affordability). Once we have that information, we will also begin the public hearing phase and provide continued updates so that we are all aware of what the project entails and will cost. 

To view renderings of our ideas, and to see the slides from this week's Board of Education meeting, please click the link below:

Scholar Athletes/Teams

Congratulations to all of our Fall sport scholar athletes and teams! The NYSPHSAA has released the list of scholar athletes and teams for the Fall 2018 season. Our Scholar Teams for the Fall 2018 season include: Girls Varsity Field Hockey coached by Mackenzie Welker, Girls Varsity Cross Country coached by Ty Knamm, Boys Varsity Cross Country coached by Nicholas Jeror, Girls Varsity Soccer coached by Bill Tagliaferri, Boys Varsity Soccer coached by Chad Reese, Girls Gymnastics coached by Kevin Perrone, Girls Swimming coached by Michelle Browne, and Girls Varsity Tennis coached by Peter Smith. In total, across all sports, we had 120 students achieve the Scholar Athlete distinction. Individual awards are given to any student who has a cumulative GPA of 90 or higher; while team awards are given to teams that have 75% of the roster achieving a GPA of 90 or better. 

Wreaths Across America

The Rome City School District and Rome Free Academy have received the honor of being asked to host a Wreaths Across America transfer event at RFA on Monday, December 10th beginning at 3:30 p.m. Wreaths Across America is a national event where donations of wreaths are made and laid at Arlington National Cemetery (as well as many other cemeteries nationwide) for our fallen soldiers of conflicts dating back to the Revolutionary War. This particular exchange event is sponsored by Walmart as they have four truckloads of wreaths traveling the country on their way to Arlington, Virginia. The event at RFA will honor local veterans and involve our own RFA JROTC unit. We are grateful that Walmart has requested RFA as a location to perform the truck exchange so that our students and community can be a part of an amazing event. Please feel free to stop by! For more information, please see the flier HERE.

Painting Class Fundraiser 

On Friday, December 14th, the RFA Junior Class is hosting a painting class fundraising event in conjunction with Kts Art and Design of Rome, NY. From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. you will have the experience of creating a masterpiece that you didn't know you were capable of creating. Reservations are required and the donation is $45 per painter. For more information, including information on how to register, please see the image below. 

Best Tech Practices

In advance of Education Law 2-d, the Rome City School District has been one of the first Districts in the state to appoint an information security analyst to help in protecting our networks and data. As part of this process, our information technology department has begun to help educate folks on things related to technology and the cyber world that could be common occurrences or mistakes that people make online. This month, their first tidbits are related to malicious email issues that are some of the most common methods that hackers use to gain access to your information. During the holiday season, malicious email activity spikes. In an effort to help you stay informed, please see this brief information page on what to be looking for as it relates to malicious emails.