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Rome board of education elects new leaders; eyes redistricting

Cara Dolan Berry
Staff writer
Posted 7/8/22

The Rome City School District’s board of education met Tuesday, approving new leadership for the nine-member volunteer board, a new meeting schedule and a slew of routine resolutions ...

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Rome board of education elects new leaders; eyes redistricting


ROME — The Rome City School District’s board of education met Tuesday, approving new leadership for the nine-member volunteer board, a new meeting schedule and a slew of routine resolutions at its annual reorganization meeting.

Board members also scheduled a public meeting of its Ad Hoc Committee on redistricting for 4 p.m. on Monday, July 18, at the District Offices, 409 Bell Road, before the next full board meeting later that evening at 6 p.m. Board members discussed an eagerness to make a decision quickly on redistricting, prompted by concerns of overcrowding at the district’s six elementary schools.

Among the first orders of business of the board — which included for the first time new members Kelly Carinci, Cassie Knutti and Jon Maggiolino — was the election of Joseph Mellace as board president and Elena Cardwell Reddick as vice president.

In addition, the board eliminated its Facilities Subcommittee, and voted to return to meeting every three weeks as opposed to meeting every two weeks as the board had been scheduled. Meetings will take place on Monday, rather than Thursday, beginning with the first regular meeting of the new school year, now scheduled for July 18.

The executive assistant to the superintendent of schools will continue to serve as the assistant clerk until the recently created part-time role is filled with a qualified candidate.

In addition to the trio of new board members, elected in May, Danielle Lubecki was also elected in May to finish a term on the board previously vacated by a resignation.

The board moved and passed 69 resolutions, most dealing with appointments of requisite professionals serving in various roles for this new school year.  


Members explored whether all the current committees needed to be maintained. Returning members were unanimous that the Educational Services Committee, chaired this past year by Karen Fontana, was critical. Said Superintendent of Schools, Peter Blake, of the decision, “to Karen’s credit, in my seven years in Rome, I have yet to see a committee that Karen chaired not function well.”

The board agreed that the Facilities committee would be discontinued and they would, instead, look forward to Alex Rodriguez, the district’s director of facilities, to provide updates directly to the full board.

“We lost a guru,” said Mellace of former Facilities Committee chair and 21-year board member Paul Hagerty upon his decision not to seek another term, “so we’d like to have Alex come in and present to the board.”

Chairs appointed to the four remaining committees were Fontana to continue to chair Educational Services; Mellace to chair the Finance Committee; Cassie Knutti to chair the Policy Committee; and Elena Cardwell Reddick to chair People Operations.

Blake updated members to changes in the state’s Public Meeting Law that include the requirement that a full transcript be posted of any meeting that is live-streamed or where any board member both attends and votes remotely. In order for a member to both attend and vote remotely, notice of their intent to do so must be publicly posted, together with the location from which they will be logging in, where any member of the community has the right to go to that location at or during the time of the meeting with the expectation of “attending” with that member.

Mellace expressed what appeared to be the consensus of the board that it was important to continue to provide remote access to view board meetings, but members also agreed to limit their participation when remote to observing and discussion – as Fontana attended this reorganization meeting – so as to forego the rigid requirements that would permit them to vote when not attending in person. 


The final order of business, dubbed the “gorilla in the room,” was the status of the district’s redistricting efforts and the future of the ad hoc committee on redistricting.

“The Ad Hoc Committee is in place and we need to make a decision sooner rather than later,” said Mellace. “When ideally is the actual drop dead date?”

Blake responded to say he hoped for a decision, a plan, by August. “Knowing that it probably wouldn’t happen till October,” quipped Blake. 

Mellace offered that he had an idea where he’d like to “see this go” and knew that Fontana was on the same page, so they planned to outline their proposal and share it at the upcoming meeting.

Maggiolino, echoed agreement, hoping that everyone would come to that meeting with at least two options, including one that a member might not consider the best option but something they would “be amenable to.”

“That might stir up some more conversation,” offered Maggiolino, “rather than, ‘this is my spot; this is what I want.’”

Members quickly agreed to hold the next redistricting ad hoc committee meeting immediately prior to the first regular meeting. While the regular meeting will include the customary public comment portion, members agreed that the redistricting ad hoc meeting would be open to the public for viewing only.

“We’ve done our outreach,” said Mellace. “It’s time to make a decision.”


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