Romeo school district to seek money for improvements
BY CALYN SHARP
OU News Bureau
Romeo Community Schools will try next November to pass a bond issue that the superintendent said would “provide a better learning environment” for the district’s 5,500 students and 300 teachers.
“Today, Romeo is very behind in all areas,” said Kelley Durand, a history teacher at Romeo High School. “There need to be major facility and technological upgrades done to the entire district. We are falling further and further behind in what we can offer our students.”
Durand said the problem is because few bond issues have passed in Romeo. As a result, improvements to the buildings, sports facilities, bus system and technology must be made out of the general fund.
“One strange aspect about Romeo, is that bonds seem to fail because of the belief that if teachers took a pay cut, kids would have better stuff,” said Durand. “This is untrue.”
In 2010, the voters defeated an $8.73 million bond issue that would have restored and repaired buildings and athletic facilities. Romeo has a high school, two middle schools and five elementary schools.
“The bond not passing in 2010 was difficult,” Superintendent Nancy J. Campbell said. “We had intentions to repair much more than the buildings and athletic facilities. We planned to overhaul the technology in the district, but were unable to.”
A compromise solution between bond proposals was a sinking fund. A sinking fund can best be described as a pool of money that is set aside to cover future payments, Campbell explained.
“With the sinking fund we have right now, we can replace some of the technology,” she said. “For example, we were able to update the grading systems, teaching programs and computers for many of the teachers.”
In November 2012, the school district will ask voters to pass a $2 million bond issue that focuses only on updating the technology and education systems, Campbell said.
With no money to expand, contracts have been changed to allow up to 34 students in most high school classes.
“My husband teaches in a district where the maximum number of students is 28 per class,” Durand said. “I teach 35 kids in each class, so I teach 31 more kids a day than my husband.”
Campbell said the class sizes change every year.
“Right now the class sizes are larger, but they will go down within the next few years,” Campbell said. “The class sizes don’t affect how much money the district needs. The money is needed to update technology and facilities to provide a better learning environment.”
Durand said it’s difficult to teach larger classes.
“Being a good teacher requires more than just standing in front of a class explaining history and English,” she said. “It takes passion and working with each student individually. With so many students in a class, it takes away from how much you can help each child.”
Stephanie Mason, a mother of two children, said Romeo is a good school district.
“My boys are getting a good education,” Mason said. “They have passionate teachers, they have help available if they need it.”
Mason said school officials are trying to do the best they can to update technology and buildings. She said people are worried about the economy and are afraid to spend more money on taxes.
“Romeo Schools are getting by as best as they can right now,” she said. “My kids are learning, they are given opportunities to grow and that is the most important thing.”
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