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Whitehall school looking to restock library damaged in 2020 flooding

Whitehall looking to restock library

Seen here is the library at Whitehall Junior-Senior High School. The district is looking to restock the library with 7,100 new items that will cost approximately $136,000.

WHITEHALL — Whitehall Central School District is in the process of restocking its high school library after it was deluged with water during the flood of Aug. 24, 2020.

The district is seeking to replace 7,100 items for approximately $136,000, according to Superintendent Pat Dee.

“That might seem like a lot of money, but it’s a good price,” Dee said.

Prior to the flooding, the district had put all of the library items in boxes that were left on the floor. School officials were preparing to give the library a fresh coat of paint.

Dee said that while the district will have to dip into its own funding, he is surveying the options available in order to reduce the cost to the district.

School officials have reached out to the New York State Library Association, which has a small fund to help libraries after disasters.

Dee said the district is also looking into the Beyond Words grant through Dollar General. Beyond Words is a disaster relief fund for public school libraries that have dealt with substantial damage due to a natural disaster, fire or an act recognized by the federal government as terrorism, according to dgliteracy.org/grant-programs/.

In order to be eligible for the grant, the applicant must be a public school with a pre-existing library, must be within 15 miles from a Dollar General store or distribution center and must have significant damage to books, media and/or library equipment. In addition, the application must be filed within 36 months of the disaster date.

The district has also secured $2,000 to help with the restocking process from the office of the New York State Commissioner of Education Betty Rosa, according to Dee.

The district intends to work with WHWSE BOCES, as well as Follett, which is a company based out of Westchester, Illinois that provides educational products to colleges, public libraries and schools.

Dee said that the district still hasn’t received any additional support from its insurance carrier, New York State Insurance Reciprocal. The district received about $1.5 million from the insurance company.

But Dee stated that the district has spent an additional $1.4 million of its construction project money on the water damage.

“We’re still not done,” he said.

Despite everything that has gone on surrounding the district and its flood recovery, Dee stated that there has been no additional cost to local taxpayers as a result.

The high school has been using the library as a room for instruction due to the distancing guidelines for classrooms in New York state. Dee said that because the library is being used as a classroom there is no timetable for it to be back up and running.

“When they (New York state) start loosening (guidelines), we can utilize the space,” he said.

The district also had band instruments that were damaged during last year’s flood. The district is in the process of putting together final numbers on what instruments need to be fixed or replaced. Officials are hoping to get reimbursements in the process.

But a little more than a year removed from the flooding, Dee said that much of the district is back to its standard function.

“By and large, the district is back together and under normal operation,” he said.

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