Sunday, September 17, 2017

Opposite Day...

Do you remember those times when kids want to help themselves believe something that they know isn't right? I always love the laughter of a child that exclaims, "It's opposite day!" The ensuing laughter and joy of having everything be different than it is supposed to be is just fun. I mention this because I often wish I could have an opposite day, or back in time to a point where the human race did not feel so entitled to everything. The growing trait of entitlement in society is alarming. There was a point in time where people were proud to have a job, to have a responsibility, and they would do anything for those that provided their family a way in life. In today's society though, having a good job or being a part of a good community isn't enough. People frequently defy their responsibilities and ask for extra if they have to do one iota's worth of work outside the normal scope. All too frequently, people feel that they have privileges that others shouldn't have, simply because they do what they are supposed to do. I often wonder, if you simply do what you are supposed to do as a member of a team or society, should you receive special accolades for it? Is the the adult version of a trophy for every kid in a little league sport? Regardless, the sense of entitlement that our society is developing is going to be our demise. I wish that we could have an opposite day, or week, or month. A time when we recognize that we are fortunate to have the things that we have provided to us, simply for doing the tasks and roles that we are supposed to do. Honor and pride in a job well done seem to be a thing of the past. But they are still the opposite of what most of the world believes in. Let's bring it back.  Let's turn opposite day into an opposite future.


Thank You


Throughout the past several weeks, many organizations throughout our community have generously donated school supplies, clothing, and other items for our students and families. Each year, the District consistently receives support to ensure that our students have what they need to start the year. While there are many organizations that support our kids, and they support the schools and kids throughout the year, there are three organizations that traditionally go above and beyond. On behalf of the District, the schools, and the entire community; I would like to say thank you to the Unite Way, JCPenney, and Front of the Class. We appreciate all that you do for our students, families, and community.  


Dads Take Your Child to School Event 


On Tuesday, September 19, I would like to encourage you to participate in “Dads Take Your Child to School Day”, an annual event that seeks to jump-start or renew a father’s commitment to participate in his child’s life – regardless of the child’s age and/or his residential status within the home.  Dads Take Your Child to School Day encourages fathers and father figures to take their child to school with the expectation that he will remain engaged throughout the school year and beyond. This initiative is sponsored by the Office of Children and Family Services.  As we all know, parental involvement in a child's schooling has proven to be an indicator of both school success and future success. This event is a simple attempt to remind us of this importance and encourage Dads to bring their child to school for a day. For more information, please visit http://dadstakeyourchildtoschoolday.com/

Drive For Your Students Event


Rome Free Academy, in conjunction with the RFA PBIS team, is sponsoring their first ever DRIVE FOR YOUR STUDENTS TEST DRIVE EVENT whereby Buick will donate $10 for each test drive up to a total of $10,000 to our school. Davidson Auto Group will be bringing 10 shiny new Buicks to RFA during it's Open House on Tuesday, September 19, from 2:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for the test drives.  Any driver age 21 or older with a valid license and proof of insurance is encouraged to come and test drive a Buick to help raise money for our students. We are encouraging all of the Rome City Schools to support this event. As a special incentive:  the building that has the highest percentage of adults doing test drives will receive a FREE MUFFIN MONDAY sponsored by RFA's PBIS team!



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Mother Nature...

During the past few weeks, Mother Nature has certainly decided to flex her muscles a bit around our country. Having several family members currently Florida, and friends working through the challenges in Texas; I, like many of you, have experienced the concern and worry for our friends and family dealing with catastrophic events. I can recall many of us making comments about the a-typical summer that we had here in Central New York. Looking back at some of our simple cloudy days, lower than average temperatures, and maybe some rain; our summer doesn't seem too bad. Reflecting on what hundreds of thousands of others are dealing with because of Mother Nature, really puts things into perspective. I talk a lot about how an individual's perspective can influence their attitude, and this is a perfect example. There are many things in life that we cannot control, but our perspective is not one of them. We can control whether or not we seek to understand a situation/event. We control the ability to find the positive in our own individual challenges. And we control the ability to show compassion and concern for others. Given the challenges that Mother Nature has presented to many people across our country in recent weeks and days, we can control how we appreciate what we have and we can control how we help. Many of our schools are already working on plans to support schools, communities, animals, and others in Texas and soon, Florida. If you have an idea or desire to help support others in our country, please contact your school's principal to discuss what is being done or can be done. It's times like this where the little bit of snow we receive each winter and the mild summer, don't seem like such a big deal.


Drive For Your Students Event


Rome Free Academy, in conjunction with the RFA PBIS team, is sponsoring their first ever DRIVE FOR YOUR STUDENTS TEST DRIVE EVENT whereby Buick will donate $10 for each test drive up to a total of $10,000 to our school. Davidson Auto Group will be bringing 10 shiny new Buicks to RFA during it's Open House on Tuesday, September 19, from 2:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for the test drives.  Any driver age 21 or older with a valid license and proof of insurance is encouraged to come and test drive a Buick to help raise money for our students. We are encouraging all of the Rome City Schools to support this event. As a special incentive:  the building that has the highest percentage of adults doing test drives will receive a FREE MUFFIN MONDAY sponsored by RFA's PBIS team!


Mentoring Program 


The Rome City School District will once again be participating in the New York Mentors program, in conjunction with the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce. Having become a State-wide example and a leader of the program, our Rome schools are expanding the offering from three schools to five schools for 2017-2018. This year, Bellamy, Gansevoort, Joy, Staley, and Denti will all be participating schools. Students who will be mentored will be either fourth or fifth grade children and anyone 18 years or older willing to devote one hour a week is eligible, including working persons, college students, and retired senior citizens. Sessions will occur once a week beginning in October and will run from 3:10 p.m. to 4:10 p.m. For more information or to sign up to be a mentor, contact Rome Area Chamber of Commerce President William Guglielmo at 315-337-1700 or New York State Mentoring Advisory Council Member Frank Di Berardino at 315-337-4721. 


Host Family Needed


Each year the Rome Rotary Club welcomes a foreign student to our community for the school year. Usually, each exchange student lives with three different families through the course of a year for about 3 1/2 months each. This year’s student is a boy from Hungary. He is living with Sam & Cynthia Pendergrast. We are looking for a host family for winter (December through mid-March) and spring (mid-March through June). Our community life has been enriched by many students you may remember through the years – Mathilde Crampon from France, Gustavo Calderon from Ecuador, Sandy Li from Taiwan, and many more. If your family would like to find out more about hosting, please contact Sam Pendergrast, who is the Youth Exchange Officer for the Rome Rotary Club, at 315-617-3567 or slpender55@gmail.com You can find out more about the Rotary Youth Exchange Program at www.7150youthexchange.org/ Please talk to Sam Pendergrast before beginning an application to become a host family.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Respect Required...

Over the course of 2 years in Rome, the one thing that continues to concern me about our school community is the level of disrespect shown toward each other. Almost on a daily basis, I learn of a story where someone disrespected a colleague, a parent, a secretary, a custodian, or an administrator. It is just saddening to me that in 2017, we as adults still don't have the personal strength and desire to treat others with respect, every day, all day. We have a responsibility to our children to help them learn how to treat others and help our society move forward, but for some reason our own community struggles with this quality at times. I expect that at times our children will say or do something that disrespects an adult; after all, they are kids and they make mistakes. It's our job to show them way. It's our job to lead by example, by treating each other respectfully. There is never an excuse or reason to pick up the phone and yell at someone, call another adult names (in person or on the phone), curse at someone because you don't like what you are hearing, or send emails that are littered with disrespect because it's easy to hide behind a screen. Everyone on this team and in this community has the same objective in life; to provide a better future and opportunity for our children. We all also have a role on the team. Throughout the course of getting to the end product, everyone is not always going to agree on the path, the methods, or the rules. However, disagreeing with someone's perspective, decision, or comment is no grounds fro disrespectfully addressing them. If there is one thing that I could wish for this school year, it is that all of our employees and community members remember that respecting each other is paramount if we are to truly provide our children with an opportunity to have a better future. I urge you to focus on respecting your team mates this year and let's see where having a little more respect for each other can get us!  

Website Adjustments


In the coming weeks, there will be some adjustments to our website due to the need to ensure that the site is ADA compliant. Recently, the American's with Disabilities Act began to encompass elements on the internet with websites becoming one of them. Many schools and universities across the country have unfortunately been struggling to maintain a website that meets the requirements of the new ADA accessibility law, but luckily for Rome, our new website is in much better shape than many of our counterparts. Our web developers and I.T. department took careful attention to the new ADA guidelines when building our site. Unfortunately, one aspect of our site that is not compliant with the ADA guidelines or our Board of Education videos and live streaming features. We were informed of some concerns this week by the Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education and for this reason we have had to remove the videos from the website and will be suspending our live streaming feature. In the coming weeks, we are looking into the financial and human resources requirements to make this feature ADA compliant so that we can once again offer this feature. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we work through this situation.  

Mentoring Program 


The Rome City School District will once again be participating in the New York Mentors program, in conjunction with the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce. Having become a State-wide example and a leader of the program, our Rome schools are expanding the offering from three schools to five schools for 2017-2018. This year, Bellamy, Gansevoort, Joy, Staley, and Denti will all be participating schools. Students who will be mentored will be either fourth or fifth grade children and anyone 18 years or older willing to devote one hour a week is eligible, including working persons, college students, and retired senior citizens. Sessions will occur once a week beginning in October and will run from 3:10 p.m. to 4:10 p.m. For more information or to sign up to be a mentor, contact Rome Area Chamber of Commerce President William Guglielmo at 315-337-1700 or New York State Mentoring Advisory Council Member Frank Di Berardino at 315-337-4721. 

Immunization Requirements


With the start of the school year comes with it the reminder of school vaccination requirements. Each year, schools deal with many many cases of students not having their mandated vaccinations for participation in school. Unfortunately, by law, we are obligated to bar a student from school who does not have the mandatory vaccinations within 14 days of the start of the school year. If your student does not have the required vaccines, please make every attempt to get them ASAP and/or speak with your school nurse and principal so that the school is aware of the situation. 

The following notes are from the New York State Department of Health:

Children in a prekindergarten setting should be age-appropriately immunized. The number of doses depends on the schedule recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). For grades Pre-k through 9, intervals between doses of vaccine should be in accordance with the ACIP-recommended immunization schedule for persons 0 through 18 years of age. (Exception: intervals between doses of polio vaccine DO NOT need to be reviewed for grades 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12.) Doses received before the minimum age or intervals are not valid and do not count toward the number of doses listed below. Intervals between doses of vaccine DO NOT need to be reviewed for grades 10 through 12. See footnotes for specific information for each vaccine. Children who are enrolling in grade-less classes should meet the immunization requirements of the grades for which they are age equivalent.

A copy of the required vaccinations can be found through the link below:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Start Your Engines...

It's that time of year everyone!! Time to reset the internal clock, adjust the schedule of life, and prepare for the opening of school. If you or your kids are anything like many others during the summer, they have probably been out of a sleeping routine, eating on a different schedule than normal, maybe eating differently than normal, and just plain and simple been enjoying some freedom unbound by a school schedule. Amidst the fun of summer, we have been able to accomplish quite a bit within the District to prepare for the start of school next week. 

We have transitioned our elementaries to k-6 buildings, continued the work at Strough on their renovation project, successfully recruited a new leadership team for Staley, had the opportunity to hire new team mates throughout the District and within all bargaining units, our staff has spent considerable time in professional development to shift our reading/writing approach, launched a new website with a release of our first mobile app coming soon, and we have officially adopted corporate colors of orange and black (believe it or not the official colors were blue and green) beginning the transition of the entire District color scheme to orange and black.

As you can see, it has been a busy and exciting summer throughout the District. I am excited for the start of the 2017-2018 school year and look forward to all of the successes that our children will achieve. As we enter the last week of the summer, please take some time to chat with your child and prepare for the upcoming year. The simple, basic tips that everyone says will lead to a successful school year include getting enough rest, communicating with your child's teacher and your child, and being involved with school activities as your schedule allows. Below is a link to a couple articles related to starting the school year, if you are interested. Have a wonderful final week of summer everyone and see you back in the buildings soon!!



Immunization Requirements


With the start of the school year comes with it the reminder of school vaccination requirements. Each year, schools deal with many many cases of students not having their mandated vaccinations for participation in school. Unfortunately, by law, we are obligated to bar a student from school who does not have the mandatory vaccinations within 14 days of the start of the school year. If your student does not have the required vaccines, please make every attempt to get them ASAP and/or speak with your school nurse and principal so that the school is aware of the situation. 

The following notes are from the New York State Department of Health:
Children in a prekindergarten setting should be age-appropriately immunized. The number of doses depends on the schedule recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). For grades Pre-k through 9, intervals between doses of vaccine should be in accordance with the ACIP-recommended immunization schedule for persons 0 through 18 years of age. (Exception: intervals between doses of polio vaccine DO NOT need to be reviewed for grades 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12.) Doses received before the minimum age or intervals are not valid and do not count toward the number of doses listed below. Intervals between doses of vaccine DO NOT need to be reviewed for grades 10 through 12. See footnotes for specific information for each vaccine. Children who are enrolling in grade-less classes should meet the immunization requirements of the grades for which they are age equivalent.
A copy of the required vaccinations can be found through the link below:



Need to Know Transportation 


The process of restructuring the elementary schools has provided a significant savings to the District financially due to changes in transportation routes. As a part of this process, the individual schools no longer have buses traveling outside of their catchment zone. Along with getting our routes in order, we have learned that a common practice in the past is families having their students ride an unassigned bus home at the last minute for one reason or another. This practice is both against policy and education law, thus we will be putting an end to the practice this coming year. If your child needs to be transported to a different address than the address of record, a WRITTEN NOTIFICATION MUST BE PRESENTED TO THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL at the beginning of the school day. A note to the teacher, a phone call to the office, an email to the teacher, etc.; is not acceptable communication. There will be a significant learning curve associated with this practice, however, student safety and knowledge of where they are going is of utmost importance. The principal will be the only point of contact for transportation changes during the day, the notification must be in writing, and the notification must occur early enough in the day so that the principal can communicate effectively to the staff so mistakes aren't made. Having a missing student is the last thing anyone wants at the end of the day.



School Lunch Information


School lunch is always a topic of discussion amongst people as regulations can change almost overnight and many inaccuracies can occur in the community about what is what. This summer, the FDA and State Education Department required school districts to review and make changes to their school lunch policies to provide more clarity to the school lunch process. In doing this, we uncovered an aspect of our policy that we have been disregarding related to the purchasing of school lunch items while an individual's school lunch account is in arrears. Please know that our policy clearly states that if your school lunch account balance is negative, a student cannot make a school lunch purchase of snacks, ice cream, food, etc. with cash. This practice will be enforced for the 2017-2018 school year to ensure that the school lunch program remains a viable option for the District in the future. You may not know that the food services program is a self sufficient entity and not supported through the District general fund. For this reason, the strict adherence to policy and expectations is necessary to ensure that the program remains fiscally solvent. 






Sunday, June 18, 2017

Congratulations and Happy Summer...

With the dawn of summer upon us, there is much to be excited about. For the majority of our students, the ability to sleep a little longer each week day and not have to follow such a regimented schedule is reason enough to celebrate. For roughly 350 of our students, the reason to celebrate is much greater. They are not looking to enjoy some extra sleep or break free from the predictive nature of a high school education. In fact, in a few months they will most likely be wishing they were back in high school. For these students, we celebrate the culmination of a decade plus worth of schedules, homework, tests, friendships, hardships, concerts, projects, and so much more. Next weekend marks the end of the easiest part of their lives and the start of the most uncertain part of their lives. Our graduates are ready to tackle whatever life throws their way in the coming months, but they also need our support. As easy as it is to believe that life is pre-determined, it's just as easy to create our own destiny. In the coming years, our graduates will be developing technologies that do not yet exist and creating harmony amongst various groups around the globe where harmony was once not possible. Our graduates will need our support and encouragement as they embark on this tremendous journey called life. To the Rome Free Academy Class of 2017, congratulations and may all of your wildest dreams come true. You are prepared to take on whatever you choose and can certainly be successful with whatever life throws at you. For the rest of us, thank you for a great year and I hope that the summer is filled with memories to last a lifetime!! Have a great summer everyone and enjoy!! 


RFA Graduation


This year's graduation ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 24 at 10:00 a.m. at the Rome Free Academy Stadium. Please note that the processional of students begins promptly at 9:45 a.m. In order to ensure that you are able to view the entire event, it is crucial that you arrive to the Stadium no later than 9:30 a.m. as parking is at a premium. Rehearsal for the event will take place on Friday, June 23 at 9:00 a.m., also at the stadium. Detailed information regarding tickets, rain date, indoor arrangements (if needed), and participation will be available through the students. All questions related to graduation ceremonies and/or participation should be directed to the high school main office. 


Graduation Walk


On Monday, June 19, the Rome Free Academy Class of 2017 will be participating in the first ever Rome City School District Graduation Walk. Graduates will visit each of the 7 elementary buildings in their caps and gowns and proceed through the hallways for our littlest learners to see the culmination of their academic endeavors. It is a nice tribute to all of the elementary staff as well, who are instrumental in the success of all students and often forgotten about once a student reaches high school. Students will visit the following schools at these times, if you are interested in viewing the graduation walk:


Bellamy - 9:30 a.m.
Staley - 10:15 a.m.
Gansevoort - 11:00 a.m.
Denti - 11:45 a.m.
Ridge Mills - 1:00 p.m.
Joy - 1:45 p.m.
Stokes - 2:30 p.m.

District/Superintendent Evaluation


As mentioned last week, we are seeking input and feedback from families regarding this past school year as we continue preparations for next year. A link to the 2016-2017 feedback survey is below if you are interested in providing feedback to the District. The survey will be completely anonymous and should take roughly 5 minutes to complete. The survey will be open from now until June 23 at 5:00 p.m. Please take the time to provide us with your thoughts so that we can continue to improve our organization for kids.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

What's the Job...

SERVICE. That's it, it's that simple. This could be the shortest blog post of all-time if we left it at the plain terms. The reality is that all of us that work in a school setting work to serve children. On a daily basis, you can hear people mentioning that kids need to be at the center of every decision/action or that we want to do what's best for kids. The phrase has certainly become the latest in a long line of buzz phrases that people use because it not only sounds good, but it's actually the truth. We all start in the business to make the lives of children better. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, some of us lose that vision. Our profession is unlike any other in the world in that our purpose is to serve children but the vast majority of our discussions and dealings are with adults. Between the funding stream mainly coming from taxes and the conversations about progress and discipline occurring with parents, it's easy to forget that the kids are what matter. The whole set up is kind of crazy if you sit back and reflect for a moment. Taxpayers want what they want, regardless of how it effects kids; and some staff members and/or parents want what they want regardless of the best interest for ALL kids. The bottom line is that we all live and work in profession of service. Our job is to serve those that stand to benefit from our mission. In this case, our clients are children who are not paying the taxes, are most times not mature enough to help steer the decision making process, and more often than not they aren't interested in being involved or understand the value of their input. As we come to the end of the year, remember that our kids are the reason why we have a paycheck. It's not because of the parent that we try to satisfy. Remember that the 'stuff' you have to work with belongs to kids and that we have it good with resources because of kids. Let's strive to truly make kids the center of our organization by remembering that SERVICE, is our job.

RFA Graduation


This year's graduation ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 24 at 10:00 a.m. at the Rome Free Academy Stadium. Rehearsal for the event will take place on Friday, June 23 at 9:00 a.m., also at the stadium. Detailed information regarding tickets, rain date, indoor arrangements (if needed), and participation will be available through the students. All questions related to graduation ceremonies and/or participation should be directed to the high school main office. 


13 Reasons Why


Many of you (or your children) may be learning about or engaged in the new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why. The series is based on a book where a student learns about the suicide of a classmate through pre-recorded messages that the student left behind. The story has been opening eyes across our nation and gives us a deeper understanding of the struggles that students face everyday in schools. The story has been a tremendous resource for helping others gain an understanding of the needs of students in our schools. However, some experts are saying that the TV series may be having the opposite effect. With more young people having access to the story, there is concern about the message that the show is sending in some circles. I would encourage parents to either speak with your children about the show, or watch it with them if they are interested in the story. There is much to learn from the story and a lot of positive can come from it; but the message needs to reach our children correctly.

District/Superintendent Evaluation


As mentioned last week, we are seeking input and feedback from families regarding this past school year as we continue preparations for next year. A link to the 2016-2017 feedback survey is below if you are interested in providing feedback to the District. The survey will be completely anonymous and should take roughly 5 minutes to complete. The survey will be open from now until June 23 at 5:00 p.m. Please take the time to provide us with your thoughts so that we can continue to improve our organization for kids.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Finish Strong...

It is that time of year where many schools, teachers, and students want to "coast" to the finish line. A lot like that NFL team that has their playoff birth locked up weeks before the end of the season so they start resting players to avoid potential injury as the regular season comes to an end; some schools have traditionally modeled this mentality. Difference being is that we are in a race, not a season. In a race, if you let up at the end, your final outcome/product will suffer. Even if you are in first place in the race, you don't slow down as you approach the finish line do you? You don't see the jockey on the thoroughbred pulling on the reins so that the team doesn't set a time record. Those thoughts would be unthinkable. So why do we pull up the flaps at the end of the school year on our kids' learning opportunities. Yes, the weather is nice. Yes, it's been a long year. Yes, we've just made it through State testing and AP testing. But, we only have 10 months out of the year to work with our kids to help them progress. Seems like it would be silly to waste one of those 10 simply because it's been a long year. The best athletes, the best organizations, they never slow down. Being great isn't good enough, being the best isn't even good enough. They are working toward perfection and becoming the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). That should be our goal, that's what our kids deserve. Every moment that we take it easy between now and the end of the school year is a moment where our kids will start next year with a gap in learning. We have all worked hard over the past 9 months to get to this point, don't take the easy route out and slow down now. Keep pushing our students to obtain their very best and keep pressing them to work harder and be stronger than even they expected that they could. Our students will do amazing things, but only if we provide them with the opportunities to do such. There's no reason why you can't be the GOAT or develop one of your students/children into a GOAT; but we have to finish strong!!

Restructuring Update


During the past week, we have been working to finalize the staffing for Academic Intervention Services, Special Education, Teaching Assistants, and Special Area's staff. While I believe we have things to a point where they are fair and sensible, we continue to work with the various unions to make sure that the reconfiguration is in alignment with contract language. 

Transportation and special permissions continue to be the main concern that we are hearing from the community. As we finalize the transportation grid, we are giving consideration to having students who need special permission due to child care be transported from their child care provider back to their catchment area home school. All of our building projections are based on where a residence is located and it's impossible to project current or future enrollment impacts on a building when students are attending schools other than their assigned school. Also, we continue to hear many families openly telling us and others that they will lie about their residence or need for child care to ensure that their child goes to the school that they desire. Once we have finalized the regular transportation routes, we will be reviewing the process by which special permissions are allowed.

Our final piece that we continue to work on is the master schedule. Our administration is working closely with the special areas staff to ensure that we develop a schedule that provides students with the amount of learning time necessary to increase their skills in the arts and physical education. Of importance with these schedules is the addition of instrumental music into the elementary schools. Regardless of the challenges, we still anticipate to have the master schedule developed earlier than in previous years. 

DimensionU Successful Again


As in years past, the Staley DimensionU team has proven successful again at displaying their talents in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Abigail Bates, Jacob Cosentino, Santino Campanaro, Gwen Caro, Cooper Engelbert, Collin Gannon, Caden Giardino, Micah Humphreys, Richard LaTour, Collin Mummert, Jacob Premo and Jacob Swavely, took first place in two out of three Mixed Grade Division categories at the 2017 DimensionU Department of Defense Math Games held at the Griffis Institute last week. Our students competed against 3 other schools from around the country to display their knowledge and ability to work as a team. Congratulations to the students and staff involved with this accomplishment!!

District/Superintendent Evaluation


As mentioned last week, we are seeking input and feedback from families regarding this past school year as we continue preparations for next year. A link to the 2016-2017 feedback survey is below if you are interested in providing feedback to the District. The survey will be completely anonymous and should take roughly 5 minutes to complete. The survey will be open from now until June 23 at 5:00 p.m. Please take the time to provide us with your thoughts so that we can continue to improve our organization for kids.




Monday, May 29, 2017

Time for Remembrance...

This is a time of year where we should all take a moment to pause, reflect, and say thank you to all of our proud men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedom. As a society, we have been trending more and more toward the concept of entitlement in recent years. Unfortunately, entitlement is not the concept that our fine nation was built upon; nor was it the intent of everyone that has come before us. Our ancestors (some of whom are still alive today to share their stories) believed in hard work, dedication to your task/role in the world, and commitment to your fellow American. These ideals are what made America great during the 20th century because regardless of your heritage, our country bonded together. Unfortunately, there seems to be a growing trend of what can I do to avoid working hard, or taking responsibility, or helping a neighbor/colleague simply because it's the right thing to do. We have lost sight, as a society, of the concept of brotherhood and sisterhood and that we are all working together for the same goal. Even in this age of constant news cycles and social media, as we enjoy our safe lives here at home; there are women and men all over the world putting themselves in harms way to ensure our freedoms and we don't even know about it. Worse yet, most people don't even care. The least we can do on our end is to work hard, be committed to each other, and be committed to producing excellence so those that do sacrifice for us, have a quality country to come home to. So, in this Memorial Day, I thank all of our service men and women who have sacrificed for our country and continue to sacrifice. Thank you to all of the current members of the Rome City School District who have served in the military prior to rededicating their life to serving children. Finally, let's take a moment on this day to reflect on what we have lost sight of and re-engage the concepts of working hard and doing the tough task because it's the right thing to do; not because we want an extra buck. Happy Memorial Day everyone!! 

Congratulations Utica O.D. Teen All-Stars


Congratulations to Rome Free Academy seniors Emma Gilroy and Tommy Weir for being the recipients of the 2017 Utica Observer-Dispatch Teen All-Star award. The Observer-Dispatch initiated the Teen All-Stars program in 1992 to recognize the many talents of our local high school students. Each year, dozens of local seniors are nominated by friends, family, school officials and members of the community with a final panel of 25 students being selected as Teen All-Stars who excel both academically and in their extracurricular activities. This year, we are proud to be represented in our community by both Emma and Tommy. To read more about their individual stories, please click on the links below. Congratulations and thank you to Emma and Tommy for representing RFA and the entire Rome community!!

District/Superintendent Evaluation


Each year, part of the growth process for those of us in eduction is the evaluation cycle/process. Last August, we did a survey to determine some feelings of the community in regard to their thoughts/perceptions of the District. Now, I will be sending an evaluation link to our community members via email for the same purpose. I have had the opportunity to lead the District for 11 months and our team needs to solicit feedback with regard to the perceptions and feelings of our families and community. The survey will be completely anonymous and should take roughly 5 minutes to complete. Please take the time to provide us with your thoughts so that we can continue to improve our organization for kids.


New Opioid Concern for Parents


Police in the Elmira, NY area have issued a public health warning about a new narcotics trend in the area that could pose a danger to children. Candy-like drug tablets have been found in the Elmira area and they contain a mix of Xanax, fentanyl and heroin; but are disguised to look like SweetTarts candy. The drugs even have a small letter "S" stamped on them that mimics the SweetTarts logo, making it more challenging to decipher the candy from the drug. While we have not received any confirmed reports of the drug being in our region, we are receiving multiple warnings from our local substance abuse/prevention centers to help spread the word to be on the lookout. 


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Thank You Community...

As you know, the Rome community successfully passed the 2017-2018 school budget this past week with a 78% approval rate. On behalf of all of our students and staff at the Rome City School District, I want to thank you all for your support. We are very appreciative to have a community that values education and wants the best for their children. The district is dedicated to ensuring that our students are receiving the very best instruction possible with the most appropriate resources available for learning. Our high school already carries a course load that provides students the opportunity to graduate with a year of college under the belt and we continue to develop programs and outlets to provide an equivalent experience for those that want to enter the work force following high school. Our middle school continuously evaluates their programming to ensure that we are providing the absolute best opportunity for student success as the prepare to enter high school. And the elementary program has experienced quickly improving math scores while they have turned their attention this year (and into the future) on early literacy efforts to ensure that students can read on grade level. All of these efforts are made possible because of the support of our community. When you work in a community and environment that is support of children and growth, it makes the entire system better. We appreciate our community and once again, on behalf of our children and staff, THANK YOU for your support!!

Internet Safety Panel Discussion


In partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the Rome Police, the New York State Police, Bryant & Stratton College, and the City of Rome; the Rome City School District is proud to host: Internet Safety and Social Media: What All Parents Should Know. The event will take place on Tuesday, May 23 at 6:00 p.m. in the Rome Free Academy cafeteria. We expect the event to last roughly 45 minutes to an hour and it will address the following topics:
  • What are the most common websites, apps, or social media platforms that students are using? What is the general purpose of each app?
  • What are some of the issues students are experiencing when using and communicating through these technologies?
  • What are some of the misconceptions of communicating through these websites or apps.
  • Why should parents and students be concerned with their digital footprint?
  • What are some guidelines to keeping students safe online?
 Protect Your Child’s Digital Footprint for the Present and Their Future!

Video Highlight of the Internet Safety Discussion


ESSA Public Meeting


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law by President Obama and is a reauthorization of the nation's national educational law. ESSA retains many of the core provisions of No Child Left Behind (the previous reauthorization of ESEA) related to standards, assessments, accountability, and use of Federal funds. However, ESSA does provide states with much greater flexibility in many areas, including the methodologies for differentiating the performance of schools and the supports and interventions to provide when schools are in need of improvement. To meet the requirements of ESSA, New York will also be required to submit a new state plan to USDE for the use of a wide array of Federal grant programs, including Title IA (Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies, Title IB (State Assessment Grants, Title IC (Education of Migratory Children), Title ID (Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth who are Neglected, Delinquent or At-Risk), Title IIA (Supporting Effective Instruction), Title III (Supporting Language Instruction for English Learners and Immigrant Students), Title IVA (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants), Title VB (Rural Education Initiative), and Title VI (Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education).


There will be a public meeting on ESSA this Wednesday, May 24, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Henninger High School in Syracuse. The commissioner and our local Regent will be in attendance at this public hearing. It is expected that New York State will adopt the draft ESSA plan later this summer. For more information about ESSA, please click on the link below:



Restructuring Update


This past week, the District was able to determine 130 of the 139 general education staff assignments needed for the restructuring. This is the first step in the process of setting each building staff. This week, we hope to have a clear picture on teaching assistants, special education staff, and special areas teachers (art, music, PE). Also, we have been working on the master schedule to ensure that buildings have the necessary staff. Principals have been busy reviewing their buildings and the space available as they will begin the process of assigning classrooms. Teachers have begun the conversations related to sharing materials with their colleagues that they no longer will need and some newly developed grade level teams have already begun meeting together to discuss the curriculum and plan for next year. Our next steps for the week include developing an electronic form for special permissions and communicating to each student where their assigned school is for next year.  





Saturday, May 13, 2017

Why Are We Here...

Those that know me know that one of my favorite words in the entire dictionary is 'why'. I believe that growth and learning occur most frequently when anyone is provided the opportunity to ask 'why', but also explore 'why'. Even when the answer to the question 'why?' is my most hated answer of all time (because that's how it's always been done), I still find value in what follows that response. Today, I ask, "Why are we here?" I mean, why do we all have jobs in education and in the Rome City School District? What is a school district? Why do they exist? Well, I know that the answer isn't (or shouldn't be), "because that's how it's always been." Simply put, the answer is small: KIDS. We exist because of kids. Our purpose is to SERVE kids. Without kids, we don't have employment. Without kids, we don't have a school district. Without kids, we don't have a future. I pose these questions and share my thoughts because on a frequent basis I find more and more people in our profession (both inside our organization and outside) forgetting our purpose. It's very easy to forget that in our business, our clientele are pretty much under the age 18. In the retail market, the industry caters to their clientele to ensure that their profits improve and thus making the organization more healthy. In our organization, our clientele number roughly 6,000 and they are young. Sometimes, they don't know what they want or need in school. They have questions that aren't relevant to the curriculum, but are to their life. Sometimes, they act in ways that concern us, but do we take the time to ask "why?" Our kids bring with them extraordinary ability, talent, vision, and hope. Let's give our clientele what they deserve. Our first rate experience that is catered to develop their future, for the betterment of our future.  

School Budget Vote


The school district 2017-2018 budget and Board of Education member elections will be held this week on Tuesday, May 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. More information regarding the proposed budget can be found here: SCHOOL BUDGET DETAILS

Voting locations are as follows:
First Ward: Staley Upper Elementary School – 620 E. Bloomfield St. 
Second Ward: Staley Upper Elementary School – 620 E. Bloomfield St.
Third Ward: Lobby at City Hall – 198 N. Washington St. 
Fourth Ward: Gansevoort School–  758 W. Liberty St. 
Fifth Ward: Denti Elementary School - 1001 Ruby Street  
Sixth Ward: St. Paul’s Catholic Church - 1807 Bedford St.
Seventh Ward: Rome Towers – 1625 Black River Blvd. 
Eighth Ward: Stokes School – 9095 Turin Rd.
Ninth Ward: Stokes School – 9095 Turin Rd.
Tenth Ward: Westernville Library – 9172 Main St, Westernville.



Board Meeting Change


Due to the need to certify the budget vote and Board of Education elections, the regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting that was to be held on Thursday, May 18 has been moved to Wednesday, May 17 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Strough Middle School Cypress Campus.

Restructuring Update


This was a frantic week in the world of restructuring. The teacher's union, administrator's union, and District have reached an agreement to determine how best to staff the schools and we hope to have this process completed by the end of next week. Our principal's have begun the process of working together to provide student records and build class lists for next year so that students and families will not have a different year end experience than prior years. The transportation department and Birnie Bus are working diligently to update their mapping programs and we expect the process of building bus routes to begin in the next 2 weeks. Walking zones and potentially transporting every student continue to be the priority of this research. This coming week we begin the process of looking at furniture movements/need with our buildings and grounds department. We also have our architect and a team of engineers visiting Staley to determine needs for the building and to begin to develop the plan to make necessary improvements in the most timely fashion possible. Finally, we have completed the necessary documentation that the State Education Department needs to make sure our schools are listed and categorized correctly, which is a giant completion in the process. As more information is available, we will continue to provide updates.

Summer STEM Opportunity


The Griffis Institute has 5 summer camp opportunities for students to experience STEM activities during the week. Each camp lasts 1 week (Monday-Friday) and costs $100 per week. Students can participate in individual weeks throughout the summer. More information can be found by visiting their website: http://www.griffissinstitute.org/who-we-work-with/afrl/stem/summer-programs. Some programs are already sold out of space so if you are interested, I would encourage you to sign up soon.