COVID halts vote on Camden project

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CAMDEN — A Camden school district public vote that had been scheduled for Tuesday on a proposed $41.5 million capital project has been put on hold because of factors relating to COVID-19, according to a district announcement.

The district “made the decision to pause the capital project vote on Sept. 22, due to the current pandemic and the unknown financial challenges school districts will face in the near future,” Superintendent Dr. Ravo Root said in the announcement Thursday.

“We will bring a capital project to vote in the future when we have more certainty regarding school aid from New York state,” Root said.

The project has been geared to be the next step in capital work to renovate sites, the Camden district has said. Plans called for work at every district building to elevate and repair aging facilities and infrastructure.

Among project plans that had been outlined by the district:

• Camden High School — Renovations to guidance offices, special education classrooms, art rooms, media center and athletic office; a new drone course; a new flexible learning space; new gym flooring;

• High School athletic complex — New multi-purpose synthetic turf field; track resurfacing; digital video board upgrades;

• Camden Middle School — Media center reconfiguration; new large group instruction space; bus loop reconfiguration; new synthetic turf baseball field with bathrooms, press box, concession stand and lights;

• Camden Elementary School — Gymnasium renovations; parking lot improvements; resurface basketball court; front entrance renovations;

• McConnellsville Elementary School — New playground equipment; new auditorium and gym addition; increase kitchen size.

The district had said the project would result in no tax increase for Camden district residents because it would be fully funded by leveraging state financial aid, managing debt service payments, using existing district capital reserve funds, and utilizing an energy performance contract. However, school districts statewide recently have expressed concern about reductions in state financial aid from funding levels that previously had been planned. The state reductions have been linked to COVID-19 impacts.

New York State United Teachers announced this week it has filed a lawsuit against the state over reductions in aid for districts across New York, seeking the release of money withheld and an injunction against future withholding of or delayed school funding payments.

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