School district holds presentations on $21 million capital project

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ROME — At the recent meeting of the Rome City Schools Board of Education, Superintendent Peter C. Blake announced that two information sessions were scheduled with architects and project managers from LaBella & Associates, the firm of district architects.

They will provide detailed plans for the construction, repairs and renovations reflected in the $21,608,018 referendum bill, as approved by the school board at its regular January 27 meeting.

The $21,608,018 total is intended to include the use of $3,410,000 of the district’s capital reserve as approved by Rome voters in 2019.

The balance of $18,198,018 will be paid through a tax levy in installments on all eligible real estate within the boundaries of the district, as required.

The issuance of bonds and anticipated bonds is permitted for amounts not to exceed $18,198,018, and any interest on such bonds would be paid by way of a tax levy.

The money is intended to carry out interior and exterior renovations, improvements and upgrades, site improvements to physical education and recreation facilities, and various infrastructure upgrades to all school buildings in the district, including Clough Pre-K School, where the district offices are also located. , but not including the Staley Elementary School Building, which remains closed indefinitely.

The project will also include the construction of a new complex of physical education baseball/softball fields with artificial turf, grandstands, parking, lighting, sidewalks and dugouts, as well as the resurfacing of the Rome Free Academy tennis courts on Dart Circle.

“Significant work will continue in RFA,” said Blake, who specified the installation of a modern fire alarm system, “and reinforced security entrances will be installed in all elementary schools in the district.

The district will host a virtual referendum information session at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9, where the district’s architects and construction managers will present details of the overall project that will go to a public referendum for approval.

This session will not be interactive.

Community members should use the link below to log in to the presentation, but will not be engaged to comment or ask questions: https://moric-org.zoom.us/j/94172138723

The district will also host an in-person community forum regarding the referendum at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15 in the small RFA auditorium, where district officials and LaBella representatives will be on hand to review comments and answer questions.

Ballots can be cast by qualified voters in the referendum from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on March 22.

The referendum was approved by the board by a 7-1, with the only opponent being board clerk Dr. Karen Fontana, who read a prepared statement explaining her opposition.

“I don’t do it often, but it’s close to my heart,” Fontana said during the discussion at the Jan. 27 meeting. “I vote no on this proposal.”

Fontana’s no was rooted in his objection to the remarkable spending on sports facilities as the council and community grapple with redistricting challenges, inequities and overcrowded classrooms.

There is a division among members regarding the impact of substandard sports facilities on attracting new residents and businesses to Rome and how this influx improves the neighborhood and its resources.

Information about the proposed referendum, briefings and final ballot on March 22 will be posted on the district’s website, www.romecsd.org, as it becomes available.

During its regular meeting on February 28, members of the Board of Education voted unanimously to accept a proposal from Jefferson County-based Kelley Bros. for $931,556.84. to provide goods and services as part of Phase II of the Capital 2019 Improvement Project. The proposed work includes, primarily, the installation of new windows and doors in all buildings in the district, as required. The improvements are part of the RCSD 2019 Capital Project Phase II.

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