Planning continues for Rome City School District's capital project

The planning continues for the proposed capital project in the Rome City School District after the state Department of Education reviews the proposal.

Posted: Jan 25, 2019 1:14 PM

ROME, N.Y. -- The planning continues for the proposed capital project in the Rome City School District after the state Department of Education reviews the proposal.

The capital project proposes renovations to the Rome Free Academy and improvements to the Staley Elementary School.

Thursday night, the district held a school board meeting and the district superintendent told the public that the elementary school has significant site issues.

After meeting with the state Department of Education in Albany last week, questions arose regarding the class sizes in other elementary schools and the capacity to consolidate schools as, opposed to build a new building.

The superintendent also says that the DOE was able to provide definitive information regarding the current athletic facilities on the site of the old Rome Free Academy.

"We cannot fund a renovation of our current athletic facilities because they are not attached to the high school, there are some regulations surrounding square footage or square acreage of a property," Peter Blake, the district superintendent said. "They want to run some metrics on class sizes at the elementary level and determine whether or not we have room to absorb our current Staley Elementary School students into our existing structures before they’ll aid a building.”

Blake is worried that delaying the issues that need to be repaired, will make them worse.

The district originally wanted a clear understanding of the aid-ability of the project for a May referendum, However that is unlikely now that the department is requesting more information. In order to ensure that the community has all the necessary information to make an educated decision about something as large as a capital project, the district will continue to update and present plans in the coming, weeks while targeting a December 2019 vote.

The superintendent says while this can be considered bad news, he is remaining positive because he wants it done right.

"Really the goal is that our children deserve the best of the best in Rome, New York," Blake said. "Our staff works hard, our families work hard and we want to make sure that our kids have the optimal learning spaces. Our community deserves the best possible facilities to do anything in, educationally or athletically."

Another concern with the delay in this project is the potential for a new housing development is going to be built in Rome and the superintendent says with more families likely coming into the community, they need to prepare and right now, the district is tight on space.

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