Low parent turnout for ‘dialogue with superintendent’ community forum

Published Nov 28, 2017 at 4:00pm

The resumption of the Rome school district’s “Dialogue with the superintendent” community meetings drew little conversation Monday night, as just one elementary school parent

The session, at the Rome Free Academy library, was brief as Blake took a written card with questions from the parent and said he would respond to her by phone or email, in order to “preserve anonymity.”

The meetings are geared to provide attendees with a chance to submit questions anonymously to Blake and receive immediate responses while there.

People may have mistakenly thought that Monday’s session was intended only to address topics “about the school it’s held at,” rather than district-wide topics, Blake commented.

During the previous 2016-17 school year, he noted, there was “one in every school” as he hosted a 10-meeting series of community dialogue sessions that were better attended.

However, the district will “streamline it” for the meeting schedule in 2017-18, with just one other such session later in the school year to again address questions and topics from throughout the district, said Blake.

Parents from various schools could have similar concerns, for example, and one purpose is to “try to get the school community to be one community” rather than focusing only on “our school,” he explained.

It is a process, the Rome superintendent added, and “hopefully we’ll get there.”

A date for the next community dialogue session has not yet been set, but Blake said it may be in March and would be “probably at an elementary school” or maybe at the district office.

“It’s always nice when more come out” for such meetings, Blake remarked.

But the superintendent added that he responds to dozens of emails and phone calls daily, and “my guess” is that people may feel “they can contact me...get answers anyway.”

Having the session immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend also may have been a factor, he said.

The district will “try it again” in the spring and also “try it
again next year,” Blake said regarding the 2018-19 school year.