Comments on the proposed changes to the Rome school district

Published Apr 5, 2017 at 4:00pm

For years I have heard complaints from members of our community on the dividing of our elementary students into K through 4 from our 5th and 6th graders. A plan to run them once again in a K through 6 configuration would be welcomed by most. This and a budget without an increas is a welcomed change.

However, running our three largest schools, Rome Free Academy, The Taj Ma Strough and Staley with student populations substantially under their capacity levels is another matter. This practice has gone on for the past two decades and has cost the tax payers tens of millions of dollars that need not have been spent.

Even though the board is not looking for a budget increase for the next school year, the issue exists of how many schools they are looking at operating. Our cost per student has risen to $22,000 per year per student, or twice the national average

I see it as being in our best interest to look at what school we could potentially close. After the closing of Griffis Air Force Base and the loss of half of our tax base and students, we built the new Rome Free Academy with it’s 2,200 student capacity. Some argue that we would be better off without it.

Yet, we don’t seem to be able to address this matter in a fiscally responsible way. Why not consider closing a Stokes or Ridge Mills and run the other elementary schools closer to their capacity?  Why not start talks with our neighboring district about running RFA and the Taj Ma Strough for both districts? This could create substantial savings each and every year in a new combined district.

— Guy Martin,

402 W. Linden St.