Enrollment up about 1 percent, school district officials say

Published Sep 20, 2017 at 12:00pm

Amid substantial shifts in where elementary students attend school due to a realignment, the Rome school district’s enrollment in grades K-12 to open the 2017-18 year is up about 1 percent overall.

Enrollment in the district’s seven K-6 elementary schools plus Strough Middle School and Rome Free Academy totaled 5,401 students as of last week, according to data from Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Christopher Brewer.

That was up from 5,347 for those nine buildings last September after the first few days of the 2016-17 school year.

Within the district’s slight overall increase, individual elementary schools’ 2017-18 enrollments have changed following a conversion to seven K-6 schools instead of the prior six K-4 sites and one for grades 5 and 6.

The increased enrollment for K-12 is “a good sign....We like to see enrollment going up,” Board of Education President Paul Fitzpatrick said Tuesday.

The district’s opening-week 2016-17 enrollment a year ago also was up from the 2015-16 opening, which was down slightly from 2014-15 and had halted a four-year string of increases.

District Superintendent Peter C. Blake said today of this year’s enrollment, “we knew that we were going to be slightly higher and we expect that we will continue to inch upward in the coming years, as we mentioned all throughout last school year.”

He observed “class sizes remain similar to what they were in past years” and are slightly lower overall. The enrollment increase has had no impact on staffing, he added.

Fitzpatrick noted the school district’s participation in the recently announced Rooted in Rome Program whose purposes include attracting those who work in Rome to live here.

It is in conjunction with the district administration’s aims to “make Rome the best school district around,” he commented, adding that overall hopes are for “more people to come here...increase the population...keep moving forward.”

Among the district’s elementary schools, enrollments are up significantly at Joy, Ridge Mills and Stokes schools and slightly at Denti following the grade-structure realignment, while decreases have occurred especially at Gansevoort and to a lesser extent at Bellamy.

Staley’s K-6 enrollment is less than than its enrollment for grades 5 and 6 a year ago. The realignment was geared to relieve overcrowding at some of the schools and result in more balanced enrollments.

One factor in Joy school’s increase, said Fitzpatrick, is that the district last year “didn’t utilize all of the space” that was available following an addition that was built prior to 2016-17.

At Ridge Mills school, “enrollment is pretty tight” with a lot of that due to families who “opted into that school” based on such factors as busing and child-care arrangements, said Fitzpatrick.

The district is “keeping a close eye on it,” the school board
president added.

The district’s 2017-18 enrollment by school building, compared to the first few days of 2016-17:

• Bellamy — 472, down
from 481 students;

• Denti — 541, up from 535;

• Gansevoort — 317, down from 383;

• Joy — 370, up from 243.

• Ridge Mills — 358, up from 315;

• Staley — 740, down from 813;

• Stokes — 325, up from 271;

• Strough Middle School — 775, down from 795; and

• Rome Free Academy — 1,503, down from 1,511.