The board is placing an emphasis on improving health and wellness of students and staff in Holly Glen and other schools in the district.
Enter Dr. Richard Lynch, the founding president of Environmental Safety Management Corporation. According to a fact sheet handed out by the board, Environmental Safety Management Corporation is a full service industrial hygiene consulting firm specializing in indoor air quality, chemical exposure sampling, mold testing and remediation oversight, water quality testing, ergonomics, infection control and OSHA compliance since 1992.
“With everything going on at Holly Glen we wanted another set of eyes to help us out with that, to gain the trust of the public,” district facilities manager Butch Berglund said. “Having somebody with the credentials, the backing, the expertise, to be able to discuss things with the public.”
Immediately after Berglund’s introduction of Lynch, board of education Vice President Jeff Simpler questioned Lynch about Holly Glen.
“Based on the information you have seen and he shared with you concerning Holly Glen, we are three weeks out, roughly three weeks out from school. Is there anything, anything at all, that would keep that school from opening on time?” Simpler asked.
“Based on what I’ve seen, both in terms of reports generated by Coastal Environmental earlier in the late winter and early spring, the work I understand has been done and what my visual observation is showing right now, I don’t have a reason to think there’s any challenge in opening that school.” Lynch responded. “The building looks to me like is a regular building that’s getting ready to receive students and I don’t have a concern.”
Lynch didn’t let the district off without giving a bit of critical feedback, though. He said a lot of districts make a fatal error in the final stages of opening a school after remediation – namely keeping good airflow in the hallways and classrooms. He said doors should be left open and remain dust-free until the turnover is complete.
“The mistake that often happens is when a classroom is done and they’ve got that room ready to go. The first inclination is shutting doors, when classrooms are turned over the custodians are not done. Keep doors to hallways open and custodians need to continue to inspect classrooms and keep them dust-free weekly leading up to the teachers coming back. Based on that, from what I’ve seen, the building looks like any other building.” Lynch added.
Simpler and Berglund went back and forth two meetings ago about whether or not Holly Glen would open on time. He built on that response at last Thursday’s meeting.
“The only reason I ask these questions is because this community has been let down so many times. They’ve been told for the last year, from last year to now, that come September that school will open. Butch, please, please, I’m asking you to not let this community down. Make sure those doors open in September as they’ve been advertised,” Simpler said.
“Absolutely,” Berglund responded.
In other news:
- Terri Lewis from the New Jersey School Boards Association gave a presentation on what the organization could offer the district in terms of helping it with its search for a new superintendent. According to state law, an interim-superintendent can serve for a maximum of two years, and Richard Perry is in his second year of the role. Simpler made a motion to bring on the NJSBA to aid in the search for a cost not to exceed $7,000. The motion did not pass as board members Therese Bonmati, Fred Powell, Anthony Ayres and Simpler voted “yes” while Joseph Rumpf, Barbara Chamberlain, Brian Cummiskey and George Caruso voted against it. Frank Torcasio abstained.
- A contract was awarded to Plymouth Environmental for the gym floor mercury remediation project at Oak Knoll Elementary School and Williamstown High School. Its bid was $215,000 – roughly $30,000 cheaper than the next lowest bidder.
- Two meetings ago, Kristina Richmond asked the board to buy a new lawn mower. At the most recent meeting, the board delivered by passing a resolution to purchase a new lawnmower for $23,200.
“It’s a commercial mower. The mower we have has a 100-inch deck,” Berglund said. “Originally when they came through here last year, a John Deere was close to $40,000. The mower they’re using now is a, not saying a lower standard, but it’s not a John Deere, but they’re using it at other schools. They researched this, talked to other districts, for the price and quality it’s the best the district can do right now. It’s a good mower, it’ll do a good job to cut the sports fields and the big fields at Radix,” Berglund said.
- The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. at Williamstown High School.