The Rome school district’s start of classes Thursday for the 2019-20 year went well, and final student enrollment registrations along with some potential class-size adjustments are pending, said Superintendent Peter C. Blake.
Blake commented Thursday night that “from what I saw today, things went about as smoothly as they could possibly go.”
The opening day included pre-K to grade 6, plus grades 7 and 9. Grades 8 plus 10-12 were starting classes today.
Blake explained “the schools started doing that a few years ago simply to minimize the stress of having a full building on their first day.” Grade 8 is at Strough Middle School which also includes grade 7, while grades 10-12 are at Rome Free Academy which also includes grade 9.
Regarding Thursday’s opening, Blake said when asked about students’ busing that he was “not aware of any major transportation issues, as the first week always has its bumps with timing, but no major concerns today.”
When asked whether class sizes may be added at some schools based on student enrollment trends, Blake said “we will not be adding any sections throughout the district, as the buildings where it could benefit do not have the physical space for an additional class. We are currently working to get the last-minute registrations completed so kids can get into school and class....”
Once that is updated, added Blake, “we plan to begin verifying addresses and special permission reasonings” for attendance at Ridge Mills Elementary School “in an attempt to reduce class sizes by moving students whose families may not truly be living in the catchment area or being truthful about child-care needs.”
The district’s practice has been to generally grant families’ requests for students to attend schools outside their regular attendance zones for legitimate reasons including child-care needs.
Some Ridge Mills parents have expressed concern about the special-transfer requests’ impact on class sizes, and have questioned how requests are being managed.
As for the school district’s overall opening enrollment for 2019-20, Blake said total figures were not yet available, observing “we generally enroll between 10-20 new students a day at this time of year.”
Blake observed, “overall I would say enrollment is up slightly from last year again and the grades K-3 cohorts have roughly 100-150 more students....”
For the prior 2018-19 year, the Rome district’s initial enrollment as of mid-September 2018 totaled 5,699 students for pre-K to grade 12, up slightly from 5,690 around the beginning of the 2017-18 year.