Sunday, April 7, 2019

Budget Progress...

As you know, the New York State budget was successfully passed last weekend. This provides school districts throughout the state with a much better picture of what can be expected relative to state aid for schools. As a result of the efforts of our community and advocacy for fair and equitable funding, Rome did see a good increase in our foundation aid. Last weekend, our aid was increased by roughly $1.5 million for a complete increase of $2.2 million over the current year. This equates to about a 4.5% increase year over year, which is the largest increase we have seen in a long time. Foundation aid increases are important because it means that our starting figure for next year is higher than anticipated. Moving forward, our only opportunities for increased revenue will be through the local share (2019-2020 tax cap is 4.06%), one time aid payments known as bullet aid, or possible contractual concessions from different bargaining units. I am hopeful that we will be able to obtain $500,000 in bullet aid from Albany, however, beyond that I do not believe that there will be any further significant increases in revenue. With the additional revenue brought in from the approved state budget, we have decided to reinstate ten (10) elementary reading positions, seven (7) elementary AIS math positions, seven (7) elementary classroom positions, five (5) elementary library media specialist positions, 75% of the modified sports budget, and 75% of the secondary clubs and after school activities budget. What 75% of those items will look like next year, remains to be seen. It is possible that they can operate very closely to 75% of the current funding level, but that will depend on possible concessions by those operating those programs. During the week of spring break, we will be releasing another video blog on the budget for the community prior to the Board of Education adoption of the proposed budget on April 23. Following the April 23 meeting, where a full proposed budget presentation will be made, the official budget hearing will be held on Thursday, May 9. Finally, in the next round of presentations, there will be much more information related to a contingency budget. A contingency budget would take effect if the proposed budget were to be voted down twice by the community. While some think that voting on the budget means you agree or disagree with the proposed changes to the district, you are actually only voting on a number. Unfortunately, without the revenue needed to maintain the current operations, changes must be made. It is an unfortunate reality of operating a business. A contingency budget, at this point, would require an additional $2.9 million in reductions. This is due to the additional money that was provided by the state in foundation aid, which could be a negative if the budget is not successful. As mentioned, we will provide greater detail on all of this, in the coming weeks.

Best Community for Music Education

The Rome City School District has once again been named a Best Community for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants. Nationwide, 623 school districts are among the Best Communities in the nation for music education.  The award program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of a well-rounded education.  Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education. Congratulations and thank you to everyone in the Rome community that allows this award to be achievable!!

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 11. 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.

Spring Break Reminder

Just a reminder that at the conclusion of this week, all students will be on Spring break. The break this year is slightly different this year. This coming week is a 4-day week with Friday, April 12 being the first day off from school. Classes will resume on Tuesday, April 23 for all students. Please visit the school calendar if necessary.

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, 2019. The term limit for each open seat is three years, expiring on June 30, 2022. Interested candidates must submit a petition to the District on or before May 1, 2019. 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.