State officials to meet on RFA roof, Staley damage

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Representatives from the state Department of Education, comptroller’s office and attorney general’s office were meeting today with Rome City School District officials to discuss concerns with the roof at Rome Free Academy, which has been receiving repairs since it was reported to be at the point of failure on the 20-year-old building this spring.

The representatives from the various agencies were expected to tour Staley Elementary School, following the meeting on the roof. The meeting and tour were announced by two of the area’s state lawmakers, state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome, and Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, Utica.

At a Board of Education meeting in early May, Alex Rodriguez, district director of facilities, said the RFA roof membrane was at the point of “failure,” adding that high winds from a spring storm made the membrane look “ like you were on the ocean with mad waves.” Also at that meeting, Superintendent Peter C. Blake said the roof was “a disaster.” The RFA building opened for students and staff in September 2002.

District officials in May termed the specific roof problems as “issues not subject to warranty,” prompting the two area lawmakers to call for the meeting with the state agencies.

As for Staley, school district officials announced at the end of August that the school would be closed after the building suffered significant damage from flooding nearly three weeks ago. District officials said that repairs to rehabilitate the roughly 60-year-old Staley building — including damage to two boilers and a hot water heater — would cost $4.3 million. The closure delayed the start of the new school year until Monday, Sept. 13.  

“We believe that there should be accountability, especially given the significant amount of taxpayer dollars that were used to complete this project,” Griffo said. “It is important that we get everyone together to discuss, determine and ascertain what can be done to address this issue.”

“It is important to have all parties at the table to review what steps were taken in the past, and what planning is being conducted to ensure the taxpayers, parents, students, and the school community are informed,” Buttenschon said. “Quality education continues to be a priority.”

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