Rome City School board members approved the first reading of their Fiscal Year 2020 strategic plan on Tuesday night which includes goals set by the board such as increasing diversity in programs, maintaining a safe environment for students and retaining staff.

The plan outlines the system’s goals and measurable objectives for RCS schools to implement throughout the new school year. Assistant Superintendent Dawn Williams has been spearheading the development of the plan with input from the board and Rome community.

Alvin Jackson

Alvin Jackson

One goal the board tweaked for this upcoming school year was adding more diversity to its gifted programs. Board member Alvin Jackson asked Williams how the system will be including more minorities in the programs. Leadership Rome, for example, lacked diversity last year, he said.

Williams said it basically came down to communication. The system would have to do a better job making sure students of color or of low socioeconomic status were reached by their schools and made aware of these possibilities.

The system could not accept students into programs solely based on race she said, since that is illegal.

“The best we can do is make them aware,” Superintendent Lou Byars said. “We cannot force them into anything.”

Dawn Williams

Dawn Williams

Rome City Schools has made it a goal since the 2016-2017 school year to increase diversity as well as the number of students in their gifted programs after a presentation from Holly Amerman, who is now the CEO of The Rome College and Career Academy. She presented to the board that CTAE programs had little to no diversity in them.

There was some discussion among board members regarding specific wording of the plan but they ultimately were satisfied with it and left it alone.

Board Co-chair Jill Fisher pointed to the system’s goals and a document listing Rome High School’s goals were similar but not the same. The Rome High document omitted one goal the system seeks to achieve — to have students be financially literate. Williams assured her and others the schools in the RCS system will align their goals with the system once their plan received its second reading.

Jill Fisher

Jill Fisher

During the course of the 2019-2020 school year, RCS is planning on improving graduation rates by focusing on improving Milestone and MAP scores. The system also would like to increase racial and socioeconomic diversity in its gifted programs. The system would also like to increase literacy rates among students by collaborating with community groups that encourage reading at a young age.

The board also plans on continuing to enhance their science, engineering, arts and math programs by adding funding and support to those programs. The board also pledged to make sure each school is fully equipped with security equipment and focus on creating a safe school climate.

Williams told the board Tuesday night the public had the opportunity to review the plan and comment on it through the system’s website. Once the plan receives its second reading Williams will develop a score card to gauge how the system is meeting the goals the board set. The survey and full plan can be found on the system’s website.