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Rome Board of Ed eyes options for redistricting

Cara Dolan Berry
Staff writer
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Posted 11/30/21

At its regular meeting on Tuesday last week, the Rome Board of Education and Rome Superintendent of Schools Peter Blake took time out to recognize the “good” stuff. A resolution was passed to …

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Rome Board of Ed eyes options for redistricting

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At its regular meeting on Tuesday last week, the Rome Board of Education and Rome Superintendent of Schools Peter Blake took time out to recognize the “good” stuff.

A resolution was passed to extend formal congratulations on behalf of the district to following Rome Free Academy fall varsity sports teams, their student-athletes, coaches and families for being named “Scholar Teams” – a designation requiring that 75% or greater of the respective team’s student-athletes maintain an academic average of 90 or higher while participating in a varsity sport: Boys cross country; girls cross country; girls field hockey; girls swimming; boys soccer; girls soccer; girls gymnastics; and girls tennis.

Superintendent Peter C. Blake made note that those teams were comprised of approximately 130 designated scholar-athletes. “Congratulations to those students, their families and those teams for that work,” said Blake.

A preliminary presentation was made to the Board by Ross Faber, contracted to advise regarding class size and redistricting recommendations. Three options were presented:

Option 1 suggests “Grade-Banding,” where elementary schools would be paired, with one housing grades K-3 and the other grades 4-6, with Clough remaining PK and Strough continuing its G7-8 structure;

Option 2 suggests converting Clough to a second Middle School and adopting a traditional middle school structure of grades 6-8, allowing the moving of PK to neighborhood schools; and

Option 3 is an “Attendance Zone” approach that would convert Clough to a PK-6 elementary school, support a neighborhood school-based district PK and maintain Strough as grades 7-8.

Consultants noted that the option going furthest to address class size is Option 2, while Option 3 does little to address class size with significant renovation/additions to the buildings.

The district and Ross Faber will host community forums to discuss the preliminary recommendations. The first of the forums was to be held last night at Strough Middle School on Laurel Street.

All resolutions introduced at this regular meeting passed, with the exception of a resolution to approve the agreement with Access Global in connection with DEI and the district’s Equity Task Force, which resulted in a vote of four members in support, three members against and one abstention, for a final vote of 4-3 with 1 abstention. Board Vice President, Tanya Davis, stated that “the motion does not pass,” as a result of that outcome. 

Other resolutions included Finance items, more first readings of policy manual sections from the Policy Committee and People Operations items, including the appointing of a Substitute RFA After School Coordinator,

Cynthia Arthur at a rate of $40/hr. From 09/15/2021-06/30/2022. The hiring of six mentors, beginning work November 11 through end school year at a prorated salary of $1500 each. As well as eight RFA Marching Band part-time staff, at salaries ranging from $900 to $1200, were approved unanimously by Members. 

The appointment of six extracurricular advisors between RFA and Strough, at salaries ranging from $700 to $2500 prorated, were also approved by the Board in a unanimous vote.

The appointment of two teacher assistants, Scott Jones at RFA and Brittinie Marshall at Strough, were approved at salaries of $18,604 (prorated/degree) and $17,604 respectively. The Board also unanimously approved the tenure of Special Education Teacher Robert Duffy.

Facilities Committee Chair, Paul Hagerty, shared that the committee’s Nov. 16 meeting was “lively.” A “way forward” for Staley was discussed. A follow-up meeting was held on Nov. 18 regarding phasing of the capital project and performance of contracts regarding same, as well as planning for a referendum. Hagerty confirmed that most discussion was about work done through Phase 3 of the current capital project.

“Interesting about that,” said Hagerty, “is that we talked a little bit about the situation at Staley. The superintendent said we’re closing Staley permanently, but now, are we going to do that?” 

Hagerty said that anything from Staley that doesn’t have an immediate home will be stored at Fort Stanwix Elementary School building, where, at the request of the buyer, the Board has again extended the expiration of that purchase contract to June of 2022.

Hagerty confirmed that existing buildings continue to operate in post-Staley. “Right now, portable classrooms are aimed at supporting staff and other things to free up building space for classrooms,” said Hagerty.

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