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Camden-Rockport school district uses $537,647 in coronavirus relief funds

By Susan Mustapich | Sep 17, 2020
Source: Camden-Rockport School District YouTube channel Camden-Rockport School District officials and Superintendent Maria Libby, second from left, met in person, with masks and socially distanced, Sept. 16, the first in-person board meeting since schools closed down in March.

CAMDEN — Reopening of the K-8 district schools, a half million in coronavirus relief money and the construction budget for the newly completed middle school were discussed by Camden-Rockport board members and school principals Sept. 16.

Coronavirus relief fund

School district Superintendent Maria Libby provided an overview on the relief fund allocation, totaling $537,647, and how it has been spent. The window for applying for and spending all the funding was narrow, according to her report, spanning from mid-July through December 2020.

For facilities, the district focused spending on upgrading filters, renovating nursing space, the heat recovery system, expanding outdoor spaces with tents, fencing and improving access to a nature trail.

Purchases of materials and supplies include outdoor seating, personal protective equipment, kitchen supplies for individualized food packaging, signage and desks. New school nutrition equipment includes a heated display case for ease of breakfast distribution.

For staffing and contracted services, relief funds were spent on informational videos for families, one permanent substitute for each school, an additional lunch monitor and custodial and transportation support. Technology spending went into online licenses for supporting teaching and learning, a health screening app, video cameras, replacing the wireless network at the elementary school and additional iPads.

Camden-Rockport Middle School construction budget, remaining work

The new middle school opened to students Sept. 14, with remaining work limited to the exterior. Completion of the site includes some exterior painting and completion of punch list items, according to Clerk of the Works Mary Beth Van Keuren. Work to be completed on the grounds includes installing of curbing around the parking lot and islands, second coat paving and striping of parking spaces, and loaming and planting.

The playground is scheduled to be completed by October. Remaining work includes loam, seed, pour in place safety surfaces at the climbing wall and slide, final coat pavement at the gym and roadway, installation of basketball hoops and painting of four square and hopscotch.

Libby reported that the school construction project bond money has been spent. Of the contingency funds raised by the district through a number of strategies $1.2 million is committed with $185,167 remaining. Libby said the district will probably not spend all of the contingency and still hopes to redo the athletic fields, which will cost about $250,000.

School reopenings

Elementary and middle schools opened to students Sept. 14, with each school using its own phased-in approach.The schools opened with an in-school education model that provides remote-only education as a family-choice option. Principals of both middle and elementary schools praised the work of custodians, building and technology staffs for making possible the reopening of schools with a myriad of safety measures in place.

The newly constructed Camden-Rockport Middle School brought 8th grade students in Sept. 14, 7th grade students on the 15th, 6th graders on the 16th and 5th graders on the 17th. The plan for Sept. 18 is to have all students in the school, other than those with remote-only education, according to Principal Jaime Stone.

"We’ve had a great beginning of the school year," Stone said.

She said the phasing in "was absolutely the right choice, and the feedback has been appreciation for the support and this schedule."

Students in each grade got to know the new school building, and the new safety protocols for COVID-19 prevention, she said.

"Being in the building is fantastic," Stone said. "It’s fitting us really well."

Words the student are using to describe the new school building are exciting, beautiful and bold, she said. "They are appreciating the size of the spaces and ability to move through them."

Enrollment is significantly higher than other years with 388 students currently, Stone said. Of the total number of students, 50 are taking classes remotely. Last year enrollment at the middle school was 352 students, she said.

Prior to reopening, the middle school held remote sessions via Zoom including a welcome session for parents of 5th graders, a welcome for 6th-8th grade families new to the school and a separate orientation for their students and two orientations for remote students.

Camden-Rockport Elementary School Principal Chris Walker-Spencer said each student had an individual meeting with their teacher on their first day. The student, teacher and one parent briefly met outside.Then the student and teacher went inside the school together, for a tour of the room and a chance to ask questions and get to know the teacher a bit in a one-to-one setting and go back outside to talk with the families again, he said. New safety protocols do not allow visitors, including parents, inside schools.

Walker-Spencer said he "heard nothing but positives both from families and teachers" and that this helped to reduce anxiety levels with everyone across the board.

He said for staff, it is some heavy lifting to kick off with teaching students in masks and all kinds of logistics and new routines. That said, the opening has gone remarkably well," he said.

The school week was phased in with kindergarten students only on Sept. 15, grades 1 and 2 Sept. 16 and grades K-4 Sept. 17.

There is an shift in enrollment with a kindergarten class of 53 students, the lowest in a decade Walker-Spencer said. Libby said she believes that more families are home- schooling kindergarten age children this year.

Last year's 4th grade class, now middle school 5th graders was a large class of 97 students, Walker-Spencer said.

A video introduction for each school provides an overview of myriad of safety protocols in place, inside the schools, outdoors and on buses.

Camden-Rockport Elementary School

Camden-Rockport Middle School

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Suzanne McKenzie | Sep 18, 2020 19:30

Interesting that there isn't enough money left over at the middle school to finish the athletic fields. Just wondering what the cost was for the "over the top" slide/playground equipment.

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