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Pair of elementary schools off state list of schools in need of improvement

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 3/8/23

Louis V. Denti Elementary School is being removed from the New York State Education Department’s list of schools in need of improvement.

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Pair of elementary schools off state list of schools in need of improvement


ROME — Louis V. Denti Elementary School is being removed from the New York State Education Department’s list of schools in need of improvement, district Superintendent Peter Blake told the Board of Education and their audience Monday at their regular meeting.

John E. Joy Elementary School also made it off that list in January, Blake added. This leaves no district school buildings on that list, he said.

Blake explained that the school accountability status is based on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Both the Denti and Joy elementary schools in Rome were placed on the list in 2018, the first year that new accountability statuses were assigned under the ESSA.

“For the past several years, each of the schools have had to develop plans with their respective faculties and school communities that work to address student achievement improvement through parent engagement activities, professional development for staff and adjustments in general instructional practices,” Blake said.

He offered thanks to the parents and caregivers of the schools’ students for their ongoing and continued support of their kids and our staff.

“Working your way off of one of these lists does not happen often and it is the first time it has happened in Rome for a very long time,” he said. ‘Without the families, our school teams would not be able to do the work with the kids that they have been doing. Hopefully, the wonderful partnerships that have been built through this process can continue into the future. Congratulations to both school communities.”

Resident backs superintendent

In the public commentary portion of the meeting, Rome resident Dennis Perfetti blasted the board for its decision not to renew Blake’s contract when it expires in April 2024.

Perfetti called the decision “stupid.”

“You want to get rid of a guy who pours his heart and soul into this district?” he posed to the board.

Perfetti pointed out rising graduation rates and even added a personal testimony about Blake helping out a friend’s daughter to illustrate Blake’s commitment to the students of the district.

The decision isn’t about his performance and everybody around the board table knows it, Perfetti told the board members, claiming - quite heatedly - that they were more concerned with their “personal agendas.”

“You are making a horrible, horrible mistake and you should be ashamed of yourselves,” Perfetti exclaimed.

As is customary for the public commentary parts of the meeting, board members made no immediate response to Perfetti.

Speaker: Busing disappointing

“What’s going on with First Student?” Rome resident William Aldrich asked the board of the busing company that provides transportation services to the district. He said that very morning the bus was an hour and a half late in picking up his daughter for school, forcing her to miss her early classes.

Aldrich said he has called First Student for answers and not received a call back. He noted Blake had earlier talked about extra expenses incurred in paying overtime for staff to stay after school to supervise students who are waiting for late buses, so Aldrich asked if there was some way to bill First Student for those expenses.

“First Student said they would be reliable and responsible and they have yet to hold up their end,” he said.

Maximum tax cap levy decided

The board, on the recommendation of Blake, agreed to a 2.95% tax levy cap figure to be used in figuring the tentative 2023-2024 district budget. Blake said he anticipates some trying times coming soon within the district budget with the loss of state aid, coupled with rising expenses of everything from a box of baseballs to a case of paper towels.

Next year could see a “potential catastrophic impact” on the budget, he said, adding he hoped he is significantly wrong about state aid loss. To prepare, he recommended setting the tax levy cap at the maximum allowed by law. It is not set in stone, he added, and can be changed as the budget is developed before public vote.

“You budget for the worse case and hope for the best case,” he said.

Blake said he expects to have a tentative budget to the board and ready for public presentation by their next meeting. The budget vote and Board of Education election day is Tuesday, May 16.

School calendar adopted

The board unanimously approved the district’s 2023-2024 school calendar, a move Blake said is highly anticipated by residents of the district as they make their own future family vacation plans. The calendar is now posted on the district website at and Facebook page.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Board of Education will be at 6 p.m. Monday, March 27, at the district offices, 409 Bell Road.


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