Pentucket Regional School Committee
Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011
A motion by Maureen Moran to ask the Merrimac Board of Health to revisit Donaghue Elementary School to investigate reports of lingering odors in the building following recent mold and asbestos remediation. The committee agreed to implement a previously approved contingency plan for holding classes elsewhere in the district if the health board decided to close the school. A motion by Groveland's Joe D'Amore to close the school immediately failed to receive a second from another member.
Numerous parents and teachers raised concerns about the lingering odors, saying they are causing headaches, sore throats and general states of ill ease. Facilities manager Greg Hadden said the smell was likely the result of the combination of non-oil-based cleaning products used in the work and aggressive ventilation. Worries were raised about the safety of immune-compromised individuals and pregnant staff in the building and the long-term health impact of daily exposure to an unhealthy learning environment.
The comments came during a public-comment session at the start of the meeting, and parents were upset when Chairman Rich Perrotti closed comment after 30 minutes. Perrotti said the committee had listen to the concerns and voted to take actions to address them. He felt the comments were becoming repetitive and said the committee had a lengthy agenda. Merrimac resident Ed Hardy asked for the session to continue until all questions had been asked. He later said he believed the administration had demonstrated a pattern of withholding information about problems at Donaghue School from the committee.
A request by Hadden for the committee to formally thank all members of his team who worked on the mold and asbestos remediation and cleanup at Donaghue. The board also acknowledged the teachers who worked on Sunday to restore their classrooms after the cleanup was completed.
Accepting a $160 donation from Morgan Beauregard, Mackenzie Kelly, Sterling Seymour and Jesse Feeney. The students raised the money through a holiday bake sale.
Accepting donations for the Bagnall Elementary School's Open Spaces & Trails Service Project from Mark and Judy Snow, Doreen Mottol and Anna Boudreau.
Spending an amount not to exceed $25,000 from the Stabilization Account to address an asbestos tile problem in four rooms at Pentucket Middle School. The rooms are currently sealed off from students. The work is to be completed over February vacation. School administrators will investigate whether insurance may cover some costs. The committee will revisit at a later date whether to re-tile the flooring over summer vacation.
Having the business manager work with the Page School Building Committee to establish a communication protocol with the state School Building Authority on possible future building projects in the district.
Going into executive session to discuss a complaint against a staff member's reputation or character.
A letter of complaint from the West Newbury Board of Health regarding what it felt was a lack of timely notification regarding the asbestos tile problem at the middle school. The committee has no policy in place governing this type of notification, but in practice, the school district administration has always first let the School Committee know about any problems before notifying town officials. West Newbury's Chris Reading also noted that a policy should be established to address how public safety and health services are divided at the middle school, given that 60 percent of the building is located in Groveland.
Having Business Manager Amy Pocsik continue researching formal parental notification systems to be used in emergencies.
Presentations on the middle and high school budgets for next year. Budget discussions continue on Tuesday with presentations on budgets for Pentucket's four elementary schools. A public hearing on the budget is slated for Feb. 1, with budget deliberations taking place Feb. 8 and 15. The committee adopts a final budget March 1. All meetings are at 7:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria on Route 113.
Clarifications from the district's technology team on budget requests for next year. The district is implementing a low-interest computer replacement plan with a $1 buyout option at the end of the lease. Ongoing assessments will determine when newer equipment should be installed for specific higher-tech uses and whether older equipment can be retrofitted for another use or should be discarded. Efforts will be made toward equity in technology across the district. Reading said more discussion is needed on how to fairly account for technology contributions made to a school by PTOs, local businesses or an individual taxpayer in a town.
West Newbury's Andrew Turbide has resigned from the committee. The board will issue a formal letter to the town's Board of Selectmen to seat a replacement until a new member can be elected in May. Turbide was not present at Tuesday's meeting.
A retreat to discuss the process to replace Superintendent Paul Livingston when he retires in July 2012 will not be held on Jan. 25 as planned. The board is looking for another day to hold the retreat. The new date is pending confirmation of a quorum for the special meeting, which requires two representatives from each town to be present in order for any action to be taken.