More twists and turns in Rome schools redistricting efforts

Published Dec 22, 2016 at 4:00pm

A Board of Education review of a proposed year-long redistricting study by a consultant firm will wait until next month, including whether to use that firm or potentially seek another one.

Two representatives of the firm who gave a November presentation on the proposed study have now contracted with other school districts, and “their time is now taken,” district Superintendent Peter C. Blake told the board Wednesday night.

The proposal was on the board’s agenda for discussion, which board President Paul Fitzpatrick began by observing that the district may have to “look elsewhere for a consultant.”

But Blake said the district would be “offered different consultants” from the Castallo & Silky LLC firm of Syracuse besides the two who gave the presentation, adding that a decision will be needed on “whether the board would like to move forward.”

Fitzpatrick said that “without a full board present” Wednesday, it would “do that after the holidays.” He said after the meeting that he hopes to bring up the matter at the board’s Jan. 5 meeting.

He also said it may be better for the board to still consider using the Castallo & Silky firm, noting it has a “great reputation.”

Six of the board’s nine members were present Wednesday night. Absent were Louis Daniello, John Leonard and Lawrence Posselt.

A potential redistricting of where Rome students attend school has been discussed by the board for at least three years. Factors have included overcrowding at some elementary schools, and seeking more balanced enrollments.

The Castallo & Silky firm proposed an estimated $25,000-$35,000 study that would take a year.

Expressing concern at the delayed discussion was board member Jacqueline Favata. She said of the redistricting issue overall that the board needs to “make a decision and get going.”

Board Vice President Paul Hagerty said he feels the “number one objective of a redistricting effort” should be to address the “mobility of our students,” in terms of families frequently changing addresses within the district.

A redistricting can “not simply draw lines” for attendance zones, he said, adding that families often “move across the lines.”