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Carthage superintendent recommends emergency project

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WEST CARTHAGE — Although Carthage Central School District’s $13.2 million capital project was recently defeated, the district is ready to bring in a more limited project — this time without seeking voter approval.

Superintendent Peter J. Turner recommended at Monday’s Board of Education meeting at Carthage High School that the board approve an emergency project to replace the high school auditorium’s stage rigging.

“We have the ability to declare this as an emergency project,” said Mr. Turner. “This would allow us to begin sooner.”

He said the board can wait until the next meeting, on April 22, to decide on his recommendation.

It would cost $264,000 to replace the existing system with a similar type of manual rigging. A motorized version would be $330,000.

The project would be eligible for 98 percent reimbursement from the state, as the other proposed capital projects had been. If approved by the local board, it would still need approval from the state Board of Education.

The $13.2 million proposed capital project was voted down by the public 431-311 in mid-March. The project included replacing the rigging as a part of a package of safety measures that also would have involved replacing a boiler dating to the 1950s, removing asbestos and installing security cameras.

The rigging was last replaced in 1965. Mr. Turner said it would de dangerous for students to continue to use it for school plays.

Board member Mary Louise Hunt was worried that the project, which would probably take place in December, would halt the fall drama production.

Fine Arts Director Richard P. Weber said the drama usually takes place in October.

“If we’re saying that these things are unsafe now, then why are we going to continue to use them until we fix them?” asked board member Brian K. Serota. “We’re taking a big risk. If that thing falls and some of the kids get hurt, or worst case scenario, gets killed, shame on us.”

Mrs. Hunt said the rigging — curtains and all — should be taken down prior to the drama.

“I don’t think we should put a Band-Aid on it,” she said. “An empty stage is better than no stage.”

Board member Joseph A. Colangelo said there were other parts of the larger capital project that should be considered emergencies, as well.

“There’s enough in the budget” that would cover the riggings, “but we can’t forget about the security part, either,” he said.

Mr. Turner said it would take $100,000 to replace the middle school security cameras. Additionally, he said, the district could save money by having the buildings and grounds staff set it up.

He added: “100,000 won’t do five buildings. A future capital project would address safety in all buildings.”

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