By David Madden

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey officials have issued the order to tear down Camden High School, even as alumni and neighbors of the century old building fight to save at least a part of the structure.

A federal lawsuit was filed back in July but no action has been taken on it. So the state School Development Authority has given the go-ahead for demolition.

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A Philadelphia firm has been awarded a $6.7 million contract. But they’ve got some preliminary work to do first.

“Go in and do testing so that they can find out where the environmental hazards are within the school and then they have to re-mediate those environmental hazards like asbestos, lead paint and the like,” SDA CEO Charles McKenna told KYW Newsradio.

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Camden High students have already been moved in anticipation of the four-year, $133 million plan to erect a new Camden High on the site, to be paid for by the state.

“It was much more economically feasible to build a new, state of the art school so that the children of Camden could compete in the employment market rather than try to rebuild the old school which would cost more money and not provide them with the facility they needed to succeed,” McKenna added.

Activists are hoping to, at the very least, retain an iconic tower as part of the new building. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit have not been available for comment.

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