When classes start in three weeks Rome Middle School will have over 1,000 students walking its halls and to accommodate the growing number of students the system has had to find a way to create more space for the school.
When students return to class in August there will be a string of five mobile classroom trailers along the practice field next to the middle school. The units once sat outside of North Heights Elementary to hold the students from Main Elementary while construction on the new school was underway.
The need for the units stems from keeping class sizes down Superintendent Lou Byars said. The original plan was to build additional class spaces on the middle school campus, however the system has had to put those plans on hold due to having to purchase 35 new school buses.
The middle school has been seeing gradual growth since the 2016-2017 school year, according to data provided by Byars during the board of educations spring planning retreat. but this year will be the first time the school will go over a thousand students. RMS holds only the seventh and eighth grades for the city schools, the systems sixth-graders are spread out among its six elementary schools.
The data provided by Byars shows a history of student growth in the RCS system since the 2010-2011 school year and projected growth in the next four years. Estimated growth from Rome Middle will taper off by 2023 while growth at Rome High School will continue as middle school students move up.
According to the numbers, by 2022 Rome High School will be holding 2,049 students. The new College and Career Academy will help take some of the pressure off of the growing school, Byars said during the retreat.
Other ways the school is adjusting for the influx of students is by changing lunch schedules. During Tuesday’s board meeting Byars informed the board that lunches at the middle school would begin earlier in the day — during the last school year some were as late as 1 p.m. Extra time will also be added to the lunch schedule which will extend dismissal by 10 minutes.