Rome City Schools

The number of career pathways offered at the planned college and career academy at Rome High School has been set at 25, following a lengthy review process which included student surveys and assessments along with an assessment of local industry needs.

Holly Amerman, the CEO of the CCA, presented on what will be featured at the academy, which will be housed in a multipurpose building on campus, during Tuesday’s board of education meeting. In determining what pathways to offer, middle school students completed surveys and a YouScience assessment was conducted to find what students are interested in for careers, she said.

The YouScience assessment ranked all 67 career pathways available in Georgia based on the needs of Rome students, Amerman continued. Also, to align pathways with the needs of businesses locally, school system officials used resources from the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission and the U.S. Census Bureau, among others.

The goal was to offer a range of pathways where any student could pursue their interests at the CCA, whether they plan to enter the workforce after high school graduation or pursue a college degree, Amerman said.

Staffing for the CCA is nearly complete, Amerman said, with only five and a half positions still needing to be filled — some positions involve teaching related pathways, such as those pertaining to the healthcare industry.

The school system is partnering with Georgia Northwestern Technical College to expand dual enrollment opportunities over the coming years.

This year, students in the cosmetology program can earn dual enrollment credits, and by next year the goal is to have this available for students in more than six pathways. The eventual aim is to have all 25 pathways at the CCA dual enrollment compatible in three years, Amerman said, with instructors certified to teach at both the high school and college level.

The school system is now looking to find a construction manager at-risk for the CCA project, which will be funded through an extension of the 1-cent education local option sales tax.

Chief Operations Officer Tim Williams said Tuesday that the new practice football field could be used as early as Monday. The multipurpose building will be built on the site of the old practice football field, so with the new field set to go, the construction process is now ready to move forward.

“The cost is going up monthly,” said Superintendent Lou Byars, referencing the impact increasing construction costs will have on the final price of constructing the building. 

As projected, the student population of the school system has increased this school year. System-wide attendance on Monday was 6,281, up 182 from day seven of last school year. However, this does not account for students who were not at school that day, so that number is expected to go up, said Byars.

“It will change every day,” said Byars concerning student population, But he estimated it could be closer to 6,500 students by the end of the year.

Rome High and East Central Elementary had the highest increases in attendance from last school year, with 57 more students and 44 more students respectively. Anna K. Davie Elementary was the only school to have fewer students in attendance on day seven this year as compared to last year.

To make room for more students at the high school, nine modular classroom trailers, equating to eight classrooms, have been delivered and will be used throughout the school year, Williams said.

A $212,520 purchase for 580 Chromebooks and 60 charging hubs was approved by board members Tuesday. With the additional devices, each kindergarten classroom will be equipped with 10, not enough for every student but that was the intent, Byars said. The purpose is to not have the kindergartners on the devices all day, but there will be enough for teachers to set up stations for students to use them during specific activities, he continued.

Some of the additional Chromebooks will go into first-grade classrooms. The purchase will complete a one-to-one initiative of the school system, to provide access to a Chromebook for every student, Byars said.

During the board caucus before the meeting, Board Chairwoman Faith Collins read a letter penned by Greg Davis, the husband of board member Dr. Melissa Davis, challenging the decision by Byars to cancel a planned trip by the girls’ basketball team to Arizona this winter for a national tournament sponsored by Nike.

Collins followed the reading by airing frustrations about not being kept in the loop concerning decisions made by Byars or incidents happening at schools.

“I do not know some things until after the fact,” Collins said, adding community members turn to board members to ask questions or share concerns, that they are the ones held accountable. “We want to know as board members.”

She continued on about answering calls from constituents and not being aware of what they are talking about or having to find out things about the school system from the newspaper rather than Byars.

“Nothing infuriates me more,” Collins said.

Specifically, Collins said cancelling the basketball trip was handled “poorly” by Byars — he cited the loss of instruction time and missing the annual holiday basketball tournament, which it has been represented in for over 60 years, as reasons for this decision. She, along with several other board members, also mentioned not knowing about the time change for schools ahead of it being published in the newspaper.

“I have a problem about not being transparent,” said board member Alvin Jackson, adding the change of school times should have been a more open process involving the board and the community. “This is not gonna work the way we’ve got it going.”

Byars said he did not know information about the time change for schools was going to be published in the newspaper — the information run in the newspaper came from a Rome City Schools’ news release.

“As a board, we have to have your back,” board member Elaina Beeman told Byars, adding he has to keep them informed as to what is going on for them to do so.