CAMDEN — Preble Shawnee Board of Education members voted unanimously to move forward with plans for a new PreK-5 school building at the board’s monthly meeting Thursday, Sept. 12.
The new facility will be constructed on the same property as the district’s current PreK-5 building in Camden, which will be demolished once the new building is completed. Approximately 600 elementary school students from Gratis and West Elkton will be bused in to attend school at the new facility. The district hopes to break ground by Spring 2021.
The board previously faced the decision — pending passage of a levy to be placed on the ballot in March — of whether to build a new PreK-5 building in Camden or elsewhere, while renovating the existing Junior and Senior High facilities; or to demolish both buildings and build a new K-12 facility, a plan board president Julie Singleton, board member Nick Duskey, and superintendent Matt Bishop all felt would have no hope of succeeding at the polls.
Board members Charlie Biggs and Gary Rader expressed support for the K-12 option during previous meetings, but both voiced their support for the PreK-5 plan on Thursday.
“I don’t agree with it, but I’m going to support it,” Biggs said.
“Let’s face it: we’re not going to please everyone,” Rader added. “But I think moving forward is the best plan.”
Duskey expressed similar sentiments.
“I don’t think this is going to give everyone what they want,” Duskey said. “But it’s the plan with the most broad-based support and the best hope of passing.”
“The community has given us a mandate to act,” board Vice President Jeff Wood said. “They want us to do something.”
The board also approved a plan to pursue financing for improvements to Junior and Senior High facilities under House Bill 264, a measure passed in 1985 which enables school districts to borrow funds on a one-time-only basis without having to pass a ballot issue for the authority to borrow. The funds must pay for improvements that would enhance energy efficiency, and the amount saved in costs over the life of the improvements must equal or exceed the amount borrowed.
Improvements to the Junior and Senior High could begin as early as next summer, pending passage of the ballot issue in March.
The board also voted to terminate the employment of Amy Jones, the bus driver who was taken into custody by Preble County Sheriff’s deputies last month following a crash which occurred on Camden Road, west of U.S. 127.
Jones was at the wheel when the bus reportedly struck a road sign, resulting in minor damage to the vehicle and no injuries to any of the students aboard. Jones reportedly refused to submit to a sobriety test following the accident, but showed signs of being under the influence.
Finally, Preble Shawnee Superintendent Matt Bishop commented briefly on legal issues involving former Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) president Kate Rose, who was removed from the organization this summer due to allegations that she misappropriated approximately $3,000 in funds.
Bishop said the PTO has handed all evidence in the matter over to the proper authorities, and that school officials are now looking to the courts to determine next steps in the process.
“It was discovered fast, and it was dealt with fast,” Bishop said. “We have a great group of people in the PTO who do a lot for our kids.”