Sunday, April 28, 2019

Rounding the Bend...

It's that time of year! The weather is improving, the sun begins to shine more, and it seems like the day ends before it begins. As we enter the month of May, schools all over begin their annual two-month stretch of non-stop activity. Elementary students will finish the standardized assessment season with the math assessments this week and the science assessments (grades 4 and 8) in another few weeks. There are art shows, concerts, spring little league activities in multiple sports, moving up ceremonies, open houses, and just plain fun to be had. Secondary students have multiple rounds of assessments (AP exams, SAT's, ACT's, Regents Exams, Final Exams, etc.), athletic events, art shows, concerts, award ceremonies, open houses, proms, balls, graduations; the list is endless at the secondary level. Some students will be lucky if they have less than 2 things to do each day of the week. All of these means that many students are going to be fatigued and perhaps could neglect one aspect of life. For many, stress increases significantly as they push to the finish line. It's not all that different than a thoroughbred rounding the bend for the home stretch. In any race or competition, there tends to be a little extra effort exerted toward the end of the game. School is no different. For some students, there will be changes coming next year either with a transition to middle school, or high school, or to college. Most human beings have challenges with vocalizing their concerns or stress when life gets busy and challenging. For our children, parents are generally the first people that may see a change in behavior or demeanor when something isn't quite right. During this time of year, if you notice something a little off, take a moment to talk with your kid about what may be happening. If necessary, don't hesitate to contact one of our school counselors to ask for advice. Not everyone will have a challenge as the school year comes to a close either. For some, the end of the year marks an occasion of triumph and celebration that does not exhibit any form of stress. Whatever your manner of getting there, this is the time of year that we round the final bend and head into the home stretch of the school year. Enjoy these last 8 weeks while they last, everything we do in life only lasts but that one moment in time. 

Parent University Kick-Off

The Rome Alliance for Education, in conjunction with the Rome Chamber of Commerce and Jervis Library, will be hosting their first ever Parent University event on Wednesday, May 15 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Strough Middle School. As part of the community schools initiative, Parent University is an opportunity for the Rome Alliance for Education to provide supports to parents in a variety of ways. This kick-off event is an opportunity for you to learn more about what they have to offer, as well as to provide information about what types of learning opportunities our parents need. For more information about the event, please contact the Rome Alliance for Education or see their flier HERE.

ESSA Family Engagement Survey

As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the district is conducting a family engagement survey. The results of the survey are utilized to develop our District Comprehensive Improvement Plan, as required by the State Education Department. To participate in the survey, please click on the link the below and enter the password: Rome2019. Thank you to all who have already completed the survey and we appreciate your participation.

Board of Education - Open Seats

There are 3 days left! 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.


Paint Class Fundraiser - Date Change

On Sunday, May 19, the RFA junior class will be hosting a painting class fundraiser in conjunction with KT's Art and Design. From 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. you can enjoy the art of painting and improve your skills. The cost of the class is $45 and for further information, please check out their flier by clicking HERE.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

A Month of Awareness...

April is one of the most busy months of the year with awareness and recognition events. This month alone holds student athlete recognition day, administrative professionals day, kindergarten day, school librarian awareness month, Earth Day, and finally, autism awareness month. Each and every one of these has a level of importance for our school community and community at large. From the student athletes that represent our schools and communities to the administrative professionals who are the backbone of our daily operations, our way of life in schools would not be the same without all of these. Kindergarten day recognizes the amazing work that our families and staff do together to prepare some of our youngest leaners as they begin their journey to young adulthood. School librarian month brings with it a new appreciation this year given the challenges that we have faced over the past 2 months with our budget. Two years ago, our school librarians were charged with reinventing the way in which we deliver library services to our elementary schools. Today, our program is a model within the region with many other schools inquiring about what our librarians are doing so that they can copy it. Along with this, our elementary students have seen increased access to technology, research practices, and complete understanding of what a library has to offer an individual. Libraries are more than books and borrowing. Our school librarians work every day to help our children understand this. Earth Day (which happens to be tomorrow, 4/22) is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our practices and strive to improve our treatment of the planet we live on. Whether it be working to reduce our use of plastic, minimize paper waste, or increase our use of reusable materials, we can all do something more to improve our environment. In schools, thanks to the partnership with many community organizations, students are learning more about gardening, planting trees, recycling, and many more activities that can provide a healthier Earth. Hopefully, those teachings are being transferred to the home and as a community we continue to do more. Finally, autism awareness month also occurs during the month of April. While many want to believe that autism is a disability that challenging to diagnose and creates situations that make learning challenging for children, I believe that autism is the simple gift of uniqueness. Autism is teaching schools all over the country that the days of expecting children to conform to the standards and desires of school staff is not the best practice. Autism is not a disability, it is a gift that provides an individual with unique abilities that help others learn to be flexible and adaptable. The discovery of autism has required schools to learn how to teach and program to the student, not to the masses. Our entire education system was developed 100 years ago on the factory model and conformity. Special Education services have started to move the needle toward student centered models for all, and no other single disability has done this more than autism. Many individuals are diagnosed as autistic each and every year, and we have a long way to go before there is a complete understanding of this vast diagnosis and the many variables that come with it. However, the awareness that has surrounded autism has been monumental for the revolution of educational systems. Given all of these wonderful reason to recognize people from throughout our school community, please take a moment to say thank you to anyone you know from these groups. Each of these awareness/recognition groups bring with it a major purpose for our school community and we are fortunate to have these individuals in our lives.

Proposed Budget

As mentioned in the last blog update, the 2019-2020 budget picture has become much more clear in recent weeks with the adoption of the state budget. Of note or the restorations of multiple teacher positions (elementary classrooms, AIS reading positions, AIS math positions, and elementary librarians), the 3-year-old Pre-K program, modified sports, and secondary clubs and activities. At this point, the only additional revenue that we could potentially see is in the form of bullet aid and would come as a one time payment from the Governor or the legislature. Beyond bullet aid, local share revenue is the only other unknown source of revenue that we will receive, and we control. The links below provide more detail on the 2019-2020 proposed budget.


ESSA Family Engagement Survey

As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the district is conducting a family engagement survey. The results of the survey are utilized to develop our District Comprehensive Improvement Plan, as required by the State Education Department. To participate in the survey, please click on the link the below and enter the password: Rome2019. Thank you to all who have already completed the survey and we appreciate your participation.

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.


Paint Class Fundraiser

On Sunday, April 28, the RFA junior class will be hosting a painting class fundraiser in conjunction with KT's Art and Design. From 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. you can enjoy the art of painting and improve your skills. The cost of the class is $45 and for further information, please check out their flier by clicking HERE.


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.