Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Train is Rolling...

The past 2 weeks have been extremely busy throughout the Rome City School District. I have had the opportunity to meet with various parents and staff as they stop by the district office to say hello. The moving of Joy and Strough are both well underway as the finishing touches are being made to Joy school now. I look forward to visiting there in the coming week. Summer programs are running well for both students and athletes. Pretty much every day of the week you can find Rome children honing their skills on something. The final item that I am most proud of is that we are welcoming a good crop of new educators and staff members to our Rome community this summer. Our building principals, teachers, and staff throughout the district have been working diligently to recruit and bring in high quality individuals to fill our vacancies. Our school community and greater community at large are buzzing about the upcoming school year. Everywhere I go through the central NY region, people are talking very highly of the Rome community and about the passion that we bring to education. The train in Rome is rolling, it's time for us all to get on board and ride into the future!!


Community Needs Assessment Survey

As part of my entry plan to the Superintendency, I need to gain feedback from the community about our schools. I have created a needs assessment survey to attempt to gain some background knowledge about how people in our community feel about our schools. This survey covers a fairly wide variety of topics from facilities, to perception, to education, to home value. If you could find the time in the coming weeks to please complete one, it would benefit our district as we seek to provide the best schools around. Click the "Survey" link below and it will take you to the survey which should take roughly 5 minutes to complete. Your feedback and thoughts will help us along the journey on this train.
Survey


Board of Education Date Change

Just a brief item of information for you regarding our next Board of Education meeting. The originally scheduled meeting for August 4th has been moved to Wednesday, August 3rd at 6:30 p.m. at the District Office. More information, including item on the agenda can be found on the district website at www.romecsd.org.


Call for Action


At the Rome Board of Education meeting on July 21st Board member Jackie Favata thanked Senator Joseph Griffo for writing U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. about the proposed new federal education law that requires states to punish school districts (by withholding foundation aid) that have too many students opt out of standardized tests.  I am asking that you too make your views known on the proposed federal regulation that would require states to punish school districts that have too many students opt out of standardized tests. Community members can take a few minutes to complete a survey letting their opinions be heard. Mrs. Favata remarked last week, “Holding back the money (foundation aid) to educate the children is the wrong thing to do. It is imperative that you take the survey. There is also a comment section in there as well." I echo this sentiment and will do everything I can with local, state, and federal legislature to protect our district.

Please take a few minutes to complete the New York State Education Department ‘Every Student Succeeds Act Feedback Request’ Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ESSACHARACTERISTICSOFHIGHLYEFFECTIVESCHOOLS

Public comments can be submitted through August 26.




Sunday, July 10, 2016

Here We Go...

It has been a busy but enjoyable first full week as your Superintendent. I have had the privilege of beginning to meet with many of our building, district, union, and community leaders and gotten out of the office to visit several of our schools. The Joy renovation is looking great and I am very excited for our community to be able to have facilities like we have in Rome. Our teachers have been working diligently the past 2 weeks as they attend professional development activities for curriculum writing, instruction, and integrating technology into their teaching. Despite being the summer, many of our students are attending summer programs from pre-K through high school to either sharpen their skills or to richen their learning. Also, RFA welcomed 3 new administrators (Mr. Brian LeBaron, Principal; Mrs. Andrea Falvo, Assistant Principal; and Miss Amy Molloy, Assistant Principal) last month to continue moving our high school forward in all facets. Finally, our Board of Education welcomed a new member (Mr. Richard Hitchings) and elected new leadership for the 2016-2017 school year (Mr. Paul Fitzpatrick, president; Mr. Paul Haggerty, Vice-President; and Mr. Tim Safin, Clerk). Throughout our community, the summer is a wonderful and exciting time. As I look forward to the coming weeks and months, I hope that you will share in my excitement for our school district and for our children!!


Redistricting

Over the past several months, the topic of redistricting our elementary schools has been discussed several times within our community. Recently, the conversation seems to have come to complete halt and in part due to the fact that I have asked the Board of Education to hold off on the topic of redistricting for the 2016-2017 school year. The feedback from our principal's is that our population numbers within the schools is tight, it is still manageable. Given the late stage of the game and preparations for the school year we do not feel it is in the best interest of children, families, and teachers to attempt to redistrict at this time. Once we have completed preparations for the school year and are ready to go, the Board of Education and the district leadership will begin to discuss a viable long term solution to balancing our elementary enrollments while keeping kids closest to their homes. As always, if you prefer to have your child a different school than your residence zone, please complete a transfer request form which can be found at any school or on our website at http://www.romecsd.org/.

District Reorganization

During our initial Board of Education meeting last week, I presented a plan to reorganize the district's central office administration. In essence, I feel that our district can operate efficiently and effectively with more director's working more closely with our administrators and teachers, while moving to 1 Assistant Superintendent for instructional purposes and 1 Assistant Superintendent for operational purposes. In the plan, you will see a Deputy Superintendent listed which is a temporary 6 month appointment to help the new leadership team learn and understand the historical and current state of affairs within our district. New positions throughout the district also include a Director of Special Education, Director of Counseling Services, Director of Instruction, and a Director of Arts and Engineering Technologies. Fortunately for Rome, many of these positions we should be able to fill from within our current administrative team. As I mentioned in my presentation, if I decided to clean the slate and hire all outside candidates, our price tag would be roughly $320,000. Fortunately, we don't have to do that and the real price tag will be no more than $114,000, however will most likely wind up being in the vicinity of an extra $48,000 above the previous organizational structure when all is said and done. Change can always be an unsettling time for some and I urge you to contact me regarding any of these plans if you have any questions or concerns.

Communication

One thing I try to pride myself on is communication with both my staff and my community. If you have questions, please send them our way. The nice thing about technology is that we can work together and communicate a lot more efficiently than ever before. To that end, I do use Twitter frequently and would urge you to consider establishing an account for the purposes of receiving notifications and news about our school district. I will use Twitter almost daily to post news about our schools, kids, teachers, staff members, events, sports, etc. I will also use Twitter as a medium to communicate things such as school closings, delays, or other updates that parents/staff may want to know about. Of course all of these updates will still be available through the tradition methods, however my twitter account will have the information first before the others. Twitter is a free app and is very similar to Facebook, it's just meant for more one-way communication than the others. Most importantly, know that email and text messaging are also very easy ways to communicate in today's society. I will blog frequently and use this platform as a way to keep our community up to date on all things Rome!!