I am a concerned citizen who wants to encourage my hometown, Rome. When I looked in detail at what the ELOST contains, I find it hard to believe that Romans would oppose it. Especially, when 30 to 40 percent of it would be paid by those who visit our wonderful community. What better way to handle needed improvements in Rome and Floyd County than to support ELOST, or would you rather have your property taxes raised?
I am also hearing a lot of opposition to ELOST that to me seems unfair. We are not recreating the wheel or setting a trend. Out of 159 counties, 156 currently uses an ELOST to fund school constructions and improvements.
The proposed new Main Elementary puts all the students under one roof. Every other school in the city and county has that. It means our students are safer and will not have to be exposed to the weather elements just to go to another class. The proposed STEAM Academy would be a school where all 6th graders in Rome city schools come together for school before attending Rome Middle School. Look around at other cities and counties schools, and we see that those tremendous changes have already taken place. Again, we are not setting a trend, in some areas we are playing catch up.
Last month I visited Rome High School and was able to tour the school and observe many positive things happening. That which stood out most was the enthusiasm. It is obvious to me that there is a new spirit, an excitement that I have not seen for a while. It was fun.
However, the one thing that was obvious and detrimental to the process of learning was the space and timing. Specifically, the teacher to student ratio. This naturally means time becomes of the essence. Unfortunately, you occasionally could be distracted in one class by what is going on in another because of the noise.
Because of these things, I truly believe that Rome City School needs (just as Floyd County School already has) an expansion for its career and technical programs that would allow students to be better prepared for the workforce when they finish high school. Yes, Rome High School will continue to prepare students for college, but we must be reasonable in our thought process and recognize that not all students are going to college. Some students, upon graduation, will go straight to work in the technology, health care, and cosmetology fields, or join the military, or participate in other essential jobs. The proposed college and career academy will give them the opportunity to do just that, along with earning the necessary certifications to help them be successful.
People are also in an uproar about the idea of Rome having an indoor practice field and expanded extracurricular space. The truth is that this field would not just be for a football team, but for the school band as well. Sound of the Seven Hills has been rated one of the best in the region. Do they not deserve practice space in which to practice in the “dog days” of summer? Does the color guard have to continue to find space in the school’s cafeteria to practice? What about the ever growing Jr. ROTC program? Those students are being forced to practice drills and march on the tennis courts or in busy parking lots. The indoor facility would provide a “drill pad” for them along with stages for chorus, “Grand Finale” and so many other labs that all students would have access to use.
However, if it was just for the football team, I still would not complain. Is it just me, but has not our football program been taken to another level? More students are receiving football scholarships than in recent history in this area. We are reigning 5AAAAA Champions, and I have not seen attendance and excitement at Barron Stadium since the days of East and West Rome High as champions. And please let us not forget that in the county, Armuchee High School is proposing modernization of its building and Pepperell Middle School is in need of an entirely new school building. From what I understand, when it rains at Pepperell Middle School it pours… literally! Do not the students of Rome City and Floyd County deserve better?
So I ask you to vote in support ELOST as its projects will aid in taking Rome and Floyd County Schools to another level. It is not about personal issues of who is in charge, their race or the amount of money someone makes to me. It is not even a political issue. Rather, it’s a moral issue. It is all about what is best for our children and the future we can provide for them.
The Rev. Carey Ingramis pastor of Lovejoy Baptist Church in South Rome.