School board approves youth development program, new jobs

Published Jul 15, 2017 at 4:00pm

A fourth year for a youth development program that aims to boost graduation rates for at-risk students, and the creation of about 12 positions in various school district categories, have been OKed by the Board of Education.

The actions were approved last week by the board, with member Karen Fontana casting the only opposing votes for both resolutions.

• The youth development program, focusing on Rome Free Academy, involves an agreement with the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection organization for $126,740 for a term from July 1 this year to June 30, 2017.

The program, launched in 2014, involves about 120 students. It has included adult professional youth advocates who serve as mentors and role models, working with students to help address needs and the obstacles that may hinder success. The program has been “working great at the high school” and has helped retain “a lot of kids who might drop out” otherwise, said school district Superintendent Peter C. Blake.

Fontana said she was voting against the resolution because she did not think there was “enough evidence to support it...justify the amount of money” to continue the program. Board President Paul Fitzpatrick said he agreed the district “needs more feedback” from the Hillside organization.

• Among the positions to be created are five elementary teachers in academic intervention services (AIS) including reading and math; a secondary grades special education teacher; school social worker; physical therapist; two senior account clerk typists; school bus driver; public relations assistant; and a part-time data processing coordinator and a part-time AIS elementary math position.

A separate resolution to abolish positions included a half-time typist; a half-time physical therapist; and a motor vehicle operator.

The school district has added more AIS positions as part of an elementary school restructuring, Blake noted.

Fontana commented after the meeting that she voted against the resolution creating positions because she said the district does not yet have an updated AIS RTI (response to intervention) plan. She said the plan is needed before moving forward with new teachers.