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Update tonight on potential school district capital project

Dave Gymburch
Staff writer
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Posted 9/18/19

An update will be presented tonight on a potential capital project including Rome Free Academy Stadium repairs, expanding the former Clough school to replace Staley Elementary School’s current …

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Update tonight on potential school district capital project

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An update will be presented tonight on a potential capital project including Rome Free Academy Stadium repairs, expanding the former Clough school to replace Staley Elementary School’s current site, plus additions to Ridge Mills and Stokes schools.

A Board of Education special meeting regarding capital project proposals by school district representatives is set for 6 p.m. today at the RFA small auditorium, 95 Dart Circle.

For the presentation, “the goal is not for anyone to make decisions” at this point, “but simply to hear what needs to be done districtwide and begin to prioritize what can be done in the immediate future,” district Superintendent Peter C. Blake said in his online blog. “The process is truly one of presenting a menu of options, and determining which ones need to be done, can be done, and/or should be done.”

Blake told the board at its regular meeting last week that state financial aid details for a possible project may not be available yet, but “we have to move forward with some ideas and plans.” The school district has been aiming to schedule a public bonding referendum vote in December to seek approval for the capital project. State aid typically has reimbursed large percentages of the district’s costs for capital projects at schools.

Among differences from project proposals presented to the board in early August, said Blake, is a new plan to add four classrooms plus enlarge gymnasium, library and cafeteria space at both Ridge Mills and Stokes. For those elementary schools, this would “provide classroom relief...given some of the trending enrollment numbers,” he told the board last week. Reviewing that plan now will help provide information about costs if the board decides to move forward, he added.

Also new since the early August presentation is adjusting the proposal to maintain the RFA Stadium track and the field at its current Turin Street site, said Blake. A potential new athletic complex behind the RFA school at Griffiss park has been under consideration, in conjunction with the state’s prior position that it would no longer provide aid to renovate the current RFA Stadium which is not part of a regular school site. But the state recently indicated it now would help fund work on the existing stadium.

It is “significantly cheaper to maintain that facility,” and it will “save us money and time...getting the track and field repaired,” Blake told the board. This means “there is no need to move it from a financial perspective,” he added in his blog.

Other potential project components to be addressed tonight are previously discussed steps such as a Clough expansion so the building could replace Staley’s current 620 E. Bloomfield St. location where moisture-related concerns near a river are considered more costly to correct. Blake said the capital project also could include security improvements for all elementary school entrances, and building-maintenance work needed at RFA.

The school district’s architect, LaBella Associates, has been involved in capital project planning.

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