Rome City Schools will not conduct formal graduation exercises Saturday, but will offer Class of ’20 graduates a photo-op on a stage at Barron Stadium.

Notices have been sent out to seniors informing them how to register for a time, Superintendent Lou Byars told members of the board of education Tuesday night.

“Once we figure out how many people have signed up, we’ll schedule them a time on Saturday when they can come in, get up on the stage for maybe two, four minutes at the most, and we’ll keep rotating people in and out,” Byars said.

The school board placed its FY ’21 budget on first reading Tuesday night during a public hearing that did not draw any comment. The budget projects revenue of $64.5 million while expenses have been cut to $60.3 million to leave a fund balance of $4.23 million.

The superintendent said that, as of mid-week, a little over 500 city students have signed up for full-time virtual learning instruction to start the school year.

“Half of them are in the elementary grades and the other half are in the middle and high school,” Byars said.

Students have until the end of the day July 20 to declare whether they want to start online or in the classroom.

Byars also told the board that ELOST V collections through the first six months of the calendar year have totaled $7.41 million. The 1-cent education local option sales tax funds school capital projects.

In spite of the COVID-19 shutdown, the collections are approximately $339,000 higher than had been budgeted. All of the systems ELOST V projects are moving along on schedule according to the superintendent.

The school system’s proposed budget does include some flexibility in the event the coronavirus continues to be a problem.

“We’ve set aside some CARES money to offset some of the things we’re having to purchase now — things that are not in the budget, like masks that we’re going to buy for our students, the thermal cameras,” Byars said, referring to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

No general fund money is going to COVID-19 protection measures at this time and Byars said he hopes the federal government will come though with some additional CARES money.

A second public hearing and final adoption of the budget is set for Tuesday, July 21, at 5:30 p.m. at Main Elementary School in the cafeteria.

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