Sunday, June 17, 2018

Congratulations To All...

As the 2017-2018 school year enters the final week and comes to a close, it is time to say congratulations to many people. Most importantly, congratulations to our graduating seniors, the Class of 2018! For these young adults, 13 years of hard work and effort are coming to close as they prepare to move onto the next chapter of their lives. For some, college is on the horizon. Others, the work force or military are the next chapter. Regardless of the path they choose, the members of the Class of 2018 are prepared to make a difference in the world. They are leaving behind a legacy and joining the great ranks of Rome Free Academy alumni. Beyond our students, it's time to also congratulate their parents, families, and guardians who have sacrificed and supported all the way through until this moment. Each student completing high school has a tremendous network and support system behind them, each step of the way. No individual in life can be successful without a supporting cast. As teenagers growing up, our most important support structures are our families. So, congratulations to all of the parents, families, and guardians of the Class of 2018 as you watch your youngsters grow into fine young adults. Finally, we need to take a moment to say congratulations and thank you to all of our staff members that have retired or are retiring in 2018. Being an educator or working with children in any fashion is a job that is hard to leave. On a daily basis, you can count on a child to remind you what life is all about. Bringing perspective to the world on what is important, and what is nonsense. Some of our retirees have spent more than 30 years dedicated to the Rome City School District and to children in general. They have touched countless lives throughout the course of their careers and will most likely find a way to continue doing so into retirement. To our dedicated staff members moving onto the next chapter of their lives, thank you for everything you have given to the Rome City School District and for everything you have done to support children over the years. As we close out our year, thank you to everyone who has been a part of making a difference with a child throughout the 2017-2018 school year. Your work and effort toward the continued improvement of our school district and community does not go unnoticed. I hope you all have an amazing summer filled with plenty of rest and fun. Signing off until August my friends- enjoy!!


Graduation Information

We are one week away from the Class of 2018 Rome Free Academy graduation ceremony. The ceremony will once again take place at the stadium on Turin Road beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 23. Please note that the processional of students begins promptly at 9:45 a.m. In order to ensure that you are able to view the entire event, it is crucial that you arrive to the Stadium no later than 9:30 a.m. as parking is at a premium. Rehearsal for the event will take place on Friday, June 22 at 9:00 a.m., also at the stadium. Detailed information regarding tickets, rain date, indoor arrangements (if needed), and participation will be available through the students. All questions related to graduation ceremonies and/or participation should be directed to the high school main office. 

RFA Graduation Walk

On Wednesday, June 20, the Rome Free Academy Class of 2018 will be participating in the Rome City School District Graduation Walk. Graduates will visit elementary buildings in their caps and gowns and proceed through the hallways for our littlest learners to see the culmination of their academic endeavors. It is a nice tribute to all of the elementary staff as well, who are instrumental in the success of all students and often forgotten about once a student reaches high school. Students will visit the following schools at these times, if you are interested in viewing the graduation walk:

Staley - 9:30 a.m.
Bellamy - 10:15 a.m.
Gansevoort - 11:00 a.m.
Denti - 11:45 a.m.
ECP/Clough - 12:15 p.m.
Ridge Mills - 1:00 p.m.
Joy - 1:30 p.m.
Stokes - 2:00 p.m.

June 22 - Important Information

In years' past, the elementary schools would always dismiss on the last day of school after an hour or so of school. Unfortunately, this practice was in violation of the calendar regulations that connect a school district to State aid funding. The violation was simply that any day short of a full day does not count towards a district's 180-day allotment. Not a major violation, but not in compliance either. This year, district's have been informed that calendars are being audited which is why if you looked at the 2017-2018 calendar; you will notice that June 22 is a FULL DAY of school for students. 

2018-2019 Student Transfers

Each year, students and families at the elementary level request transfers to a different school due to childcare needs and family requirements. In the past, we have always asked everyone to complete a new transfer request form for the following year. In essence, we hit the reset button each summer with student enrollment and registration; essentially requiring everyone to jump through hoops again to get their students enrolled in a different school due to childcare reasons. The amount of time and resources that are expunged on the District end is also tremendous. That's why for 2018-2019, we will NOT be requiring families to submit a new request. For the first time, whatever school your student is attending in June 2018 is the school that we are going to enroll them in for the 2018-2019 school year. The only reason that any family would need to submit a transfer request for 2018-2019, would be if their child needed to attend a different school than where they currently attend. 

2018-2019 Report Cards

Beginning in 2018-2019, the Rome City School District will begin to utilize electronic methods to disseminate our report cards. Currently, parents at the secondary level are able to access in progress grades on a daily/weekly basis, virtually making the traditional report card in schools obsolete. Report cards will not look vastly different than they currently do, however instead of sending home with students or mailing them home, we will be saving report cards as a PDF file and emailing to families as an attachment. Throughout the summer we will work to increase our email database to ensure the best possible reporting and any family wishing to have a traditional paper report card can opt to have that option. More information will be available in August/September of this year. 


2018-2019 School Health Changes


Each year, New York State reviews their health screening requirements and on occasion will make changes. For the 2018-2019 school year, there are changes to the immunization requirements and health screening requirements. For a copy of the updated immunization requirements from the Department of Health, please click the link below. Other changes to health screenings include:



Health Examinations required in grades pre K or K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.

Vision and Hearing Screening required within 6 moths of entering school and in grades pre K or K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
Scoliosis Screenings are required for females in grades 5 and 7, and for males in grade 9.

Please speak to your school nurse or family physician if you have any questions regarding these new requirements.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

No Wonder Why...

For the last two years, I have spent many days trying to determine why things where a certain way within the school district and community. I have frequently asked people why a certain procedure was in place or why a certain person seemed to cause fear in people, or why some things were implemented that were not ultimately serving the best interest of kids. On almost every occasion, the response would boil down to some form of 'the squeakiest wheel got the grease' or 'whoever would cry the loudest would get what they want' or 'we didn't want someone reporting to the local paper'. At this point, it's no wonder why so many people are confused and/or doing things differently than most any other school district. We are in a community where the adults would rather attack each other, attempt smear campaigns, and attempt to expose things as error without having more than 10% of the facts. All of this causes our entire community to have a negative reputation and our children to learn the concept of entitlement. Far too often, people feel they are entitled to something without working for it or without obtaining facts or without respect for another persons life. We, the adults, are the problem my friends. It's no wonder why the paper prints 90% negative stories about the school district. It's what most people want to read, the negative, gossip, tabloid type stories. Ironically, not one individual has called the district office this year complaining that they haven't seen more positive stories about the kids and their accomplishments. But 30 people will call about one article that is written which contains almost zero facts, just gossip because someone called the paper to complain. What if 10 people called the paper every day about reporting on positive things our kids are achieving instead of 3 people with an axe to grind calling because they didn't get an answer that THEY wanted or got an answer that was the truth, but THEY didn't believe it. What could happen for our community image then? The constant use of social media on behalf of our adults attempting to tear others down, cyberbully them, or in some cases even harass an individual and/or their family is disgraceful. We wonder why our kids think it's ok to take to social media and post things that are inappropriate and could jeopardize their future. They are watching the adults in their community do it on a weekly basis. The worst part, most everything that people are floating out there are less than 5% factual. But the second someone sees it on social media, they repost it, share it, whatever and hundreds more have seen it. All of a sudden, a complete fabrication steeped in anger for not getting their way has turned into reality. It's time to stop wondering why things in our community are so negative people and time to start acting like adults in a community that are working to improve the lives of our CHILDREN, not ourselves. Not everything in life goes the way we want it to, but that doesn't mean that everyone in life is out to get us. This community has tremendous potential and our staff have tremendous talent to be able to get our kids to the top. In order to do this though, we need to focus our energy in a positive direction and stop with conspiracy theories and attempts to hurt each other as adults. I wonder what could happen in an environment like that? It's time to find out... 


Senior Art/Music Showcase

The Class of 2018 Art and Music students are presenting a recital/gallery on Thursday, June 14th at 7:00 p.m. in the large auditorium at RFA. This event is completely run by the students, and I know they would love to see you there. Please consider taking some time out of your evening to support our graduating artists!

Regents Exam Schedule

This week marks the start of the exam season for our high school and middle school students. Questions about your child's exam or schedule should be directed to the classroom teacher first, and then school administration second. Detailed information about the exam schedule and transportation information for students can be found HERE.

June 22 - Important Information

In years' past, the elementary schools would always dismiss on the last day of school after an hour or so of school. Unfortunately, this practice was in violation of the calendar regulations that connect a school district to State aid funding. The violation was simply that any day short of a full day does not count towards a district's 180-day allotment. Not a major violation, but not in compliance either. This year, district's have been informed that calendars are being audited which is why if you looked at the 2017-2018 calendar; you will notice that June 22 is a FULL DAY of school for students. Also, there are no traditional half days on Fridays for elementary either, to ensure compliance with this regulation.

2018-2019 Student Transfers

Each year, students and families at the elementary level request transfers to a different school due to childcare needs and family requirements. In the past, we have always asked everyone to complete a new transfer request form for the following year. In essence, we hit the reset button each summer with student enrollment and registration; essentially requiring everyone to jump through hoops again to get their students enrolled in a different school due to childcare reasons. The amount of time and resources that are expunged on the District end is also tremendous. That's why for 2018-2019, we will NOT be requiring families to submit a new request. For the first time, whatever school your student is attending in June 2018 is the school that we are going to enroll them in for the 2018-2019 school year. The only reason that any family would need to submit a transfer request for 2018-2019, would be if their child needed to attend a different school than where they currently attend. 

2018-2019 Report Cards

Beginning in 2018-2019, the Rome City School District will begin to utilize electronic methods to disseminate our report cards. Currently, parents at the secondary level are able to access in progress grades on a daily/weekly basis, virtually making the traditional report card in schools obsolete. Report cards will not look vastly different than they currently do, however instead of sending home with students or mailing them home, we will be saving report cards as a PDF file and emailing to families as an attachment. Throughout the summer we will work to increase our email database to ensure the best possible reporting and any family wishing to have a traditional paper report card can opt to have that option. More information will be available in August/September of this year. 


2018-2019 School Health Changes


Each year, New York State reviews their health screening requirements and on occasion will make changes. For the 2018-2019 school year, there are changes to the immunization requirements and health screening requirements. For a copy of the updated immunization requirements from the Department of Health, please click the link below. Other changes to health screenings include:

Health Examinations required in grades pre K or K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
Vision and Hearing Screening required within 6 moths of entering school and in grades pre K or K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
Scoliosis Screenings are required for females in grades 5 and 7, and for males in grade 9.

Please speak to your school nurse or family physician if you have any questions regarding these new requirements.


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Four Point Line...

Recently, I was reading another blog about the success of the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team. For those that are not basketball followers, Philadelphia has been one of the worst basketball teams/franchises for nearly a decade; until this season. This year, they stormed to a close and made a decent run in the playoffs, with a very young but talented team. Over the years, there were many critics about their approach to building a team, and at this point in time it appears the critics may have been wrong. Rather than react quickly to negative seasons, games, performances; the 76ers strategically planned and built a contending team. They repeatedly wound up in the top of the draft, selecting in top 5 positions (if not the first pick) almost yearly. They battled through injuries of their young players, but didn't give up on them. In the end, they have amassed one of the most talented young rosters in the NBA, and now it's paying off. The concept that the franchise utilized to expand their mindsets and horizons is also memorialized on their practice court in the form of a four-point line. There's no such thing in reality, but the concept is to get their players on the court, and executives in the office to expand their abilities and push themselves to limits that normal franchises would not. This idea of a four-point line can be transferred to any walk of life really. Pushing people outside of their comfort zone and asking for more than they thought was possible is not a bad learning experience. As Philadelphia has learned, it makes the day to day operations and normal functions easier. It removes the stress of the simple tasks and builds the confidence/courage of individuals to attempt and eventually obtain more success than they thought was possible. Education often has spent time working to push the intellectual abilities of our students to obtain more than the bare minimum. Education has also been traditionally a reactive profession where teachers and systems don't always plan for the future and build successful models and strategies; but live in the current, trying to survive the moment. As I have mentioned in the past, the world of public education needs to develop their own four-point line, where people are experimenting and trying new things; attempting to revolutionize the field. The model of taking risks and attempting to change the status quo have worked throughout history in many fields, including education. Just as the Philadelphia fan base trusted the process, regardless of how frustrated they got with the losing seasons; we as an educational community need to trust the process and let the professionals do their jobs. We have amazing individuals with a lot of talent working with our kids. As a collective community, we need to have the patience to let their visions come to fruition. They are working outside of the four-point line on a daily basis. As you've heard before, sometimes you lose a battle to win the war. Our people are ready to make the run to the top, we just need to keep practicing beyond that four-point line and trusting the process.

Regents Exam - RFA

On Tuesday, June 5, RFA students will not be in session as the State is administering the new Common Core Regents Exam in Global History and Geography. Due to the number of students taking this exam and the amount of staff necessary to administer the exam, the building will not be in session on this day. For more information on the Regents exam schedule, you can visit the RFA website or view the schedule HERE.


June 22 - Important Information

 In years' past, the elementary schools would always dismiss on the last day of school after an hour or so of school. Unfortunately, this practice was in violation of the calendar regulations that connect a school district to State aid funding. The violation was simply that any day short of a full day does not count towards a district's 180-day allotment. Not a major violation, but not in compliance either. This year, district's have been informed that calendars are being audited which is why if you looked at the 2017-2018 calendar; you will notice that June 22 is a FULL DAY of school for students. Also, there are no traditional half days on Fridays for elementary either, to ensure compliance with this regulation.

Strough Project

As we enter the final month of the school year, many people have long been preparing for the next school year that begins in September. This task also includes the preparations to finish the current renovation project at Strough and return the building to the students and staff. Each day we continue to see progress throughout the site and the planning process for moving back to the building is well underway. Classroom doors are now being installed throughout the building, fixtures within the rooms and library are almost complete, furniture is ordered, technology products are awaiting installation, and the faculty is set for a walk through in the coming weeks so they can better prepare over the summer. As with any project, things always come down to the wire and we anticipate this will be no different. However, at this point there is no reason to believe that we will not be complete with plenty of time to prepare for the opening of school and within budget. 

2018-2019 Student Transfers

Each year, students and families at the elementary level request transfers to a different school due to childcare needs and family requirements. In the past, we have always asked everyone to complete a new transfer request form for the following year. In essence, we hit the reset button each summer with student enrollment and registration; essentially requiring everyone to jump through hoops again to get their students enrolled in a different school due to childcare reasons. The amount of time and resources that are expunged on the District end is also tremendous. That's why for 2018-2019, we will NOT be requiring families to submit a new request. For the first time, whatever school your student is attending in June 2018 is the school that we are going to enroll them in for the 2018-2019 school year. The only reason that any family would need to submit a transfer request for 2018-2019, would be if their child needed to attend a different school than where they currently attend.