School board discusses polling site change, club fundraising audit


A change in the Rome school district’s Fifth Ward voting location, and an upcoming audit involving booster club and parent-teacher group (PTG) fundraising processes, were reviewed by the Board of Education Thursday night.

Among other topics, the board approved an agreement with a consultant to assist with the school district’s response plan in conjunction with four schools being put on a state list for improvements needed.

In the discussions:

• Strough Middle School will resume being the Fifth Ward voting site for the school district’s annual election in May, after being replaced by nearby Denti Elementary School for the past two years, board members agreed.

Denti, at 1001 Ruby St., had been used because Strough’s 801 Laurel St. facility was closed for renovations during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. The Strough building reopened last September for the start of the current 2018-19 year.

While district officials said the use of Denti worked well, board member Joseph Mellace noted voters were “used to using Strough.” He added that whatever site is used, the district should “keep it there” rather than continually changing.

District Superintendent Peter C. Blake said while concerns had been expressed about a possible conflict at Strough relating to students returning from a field trip, he remarked the front-hallway voting location is separate from the field trip unloading area which is not a factor. Overall, Strough is “easier to find” and the voting has “historically been there,” he said, adding “the choice is Strough.”

• An internal audit company’s review of booster clubs and PTGs in the 2019-20 school year will relate to financial processes for fundraisers, said district Director of Business and Finance David Dreidel.

Board members agreed with district administrators’ suggestion that those groups be the latest “focus area” selection for a more detailed study by the EFPR Group, the district’s internal auditor since the 2016-17 year. The district’s Medicaid billing was the category focused upon last year, while the buildings and grounds category was examined in the year before that, Dreidel pointed out.

In addition to reviews of “focus area” categories, EFPR has annually been updating an overall “internal control risk assessment” of the district’s various financial controls and risks. The latest assessment was an essentially “clean report” although a few issues were noted, according to a report last month to the board’s finance committee by an EFPR representative.

• The board approved a partnership agreement with PLC Associates, Inc. for developing a district-wide DTSDE (Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness) plan as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The consultant company will “help in the district’s response plan,” said Blake. Four Rome elementary schools were identified by the state in January as needing Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), as part of the state’s implementation of ESSA which is a revision of the prior No Child Left Behind law. The CSI designation was based on factors including students’ academic performance. The state has been conducting on-site evaluations for the four schools which include Denti, Joy, Gansevoort and Staley.

Blake after the meeting could not immediately specify the cost of the agreement with PLC Associates, which he said is through a grant.


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