Rome City Schools’ board of education met Tuesday night to conduct its first public hearing of the 2020 fiscal year budget as well as approve a Georgia Power energy savings proposal.

A proposal to retrofit all of the schools in the system with energy efficient lighting was presented to the board by Tim Williams, chief operations officer for RCS. Williams said the project will require no upfront capital since the energy savings will offset most of the cost of the project. Georgia Power will subcontract out the installation of the lights, which the system will pay for through monthly payments. Williams estimated the school system will have to pay an estimated $2,231 a month for 10 years, which will make up for what the savings do not cover each month. Superintendent Lou Byars said that once the system has paid for the cost of installing the lights — which comes out to around $1.7 million — the school system will be able to keep the 50-80% savings it will be getting from its electricity bill compared to the old lighting costs.

This project includes replacing lights in all of Rome City Schools with LED lights including parking lots and gymnasiums. This update will improve safety and security, Byars said, since lights in some parking lots are currently prone to flicker on and off at night.

The board approved a first reading of the 2019-2020 school year calendar. The calendar was updated to include three flexible learning days on Sept. 3, Oct. 7 and Nov. 1. This program was piloted earlier this year during a called snow day and the system set up a schedule of school assignment for students to complete at home.

The board also held their first public hearing for the 2020 fiscal year budget. Attendees to the meeting had the opportunity to sign up to give an opinion on the budget, however no one signed up to speak for Tuesday night’s meeting. The budget will be presented to the City Finance Committee Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in the Same King Room inside City Hall. Rome City Schools will also post their budget online for public viewing before their second public hearing June 11. A sign up sheet will be available to anyone who wishes to speak about the budget.

The Phoenix Performance Learning Center and the Rome Transitional Academy were in the academic spotlight at this month’s meeting presented by Principal Jennifer Perkins. Perkins thanked the board for supporting her students in their nontraditional pathways. She went over the different ways the PPLC and RTA provide services to students and attributed student success to a positive atmosphere, reliable staff and partnerships with community organizations.

At every May board meeting the school system recognizes RCS personnel that retired during the school year or at the end of it. Board Chairperson Faith Collins and Byars called each retiree up one-by-one and presented them with a certificate as well as an RCS pin for their service. Others recognized at the meeting included students who achieved various honors in academics, athletics and arts.