According to the experts at Tuesday night’s East Hampton school board meeting, it’s going to cost somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000 to replace the ceilings in five classrooms and another small room at the middle school, where more problems came to light, literally, as ceiling tiles came crashing down during a mid-July weekend brownout.
Brendan Broderick of the environmental firm J.C. Broderick and Associates explained to the board that heat and humidity caused some tiles affixed to the plaster by “glue dollops,” which contain asbestos, to loosen. They landed on the suspended ceiling, causing those tiles to fall as well.
“All air samples came back clean,” said Mike Guido, the middle school architect, who spoke with Mr. Broderick. “The only thing hot is the glue, but it is not friable and does not readily come out.” Mr. Guido heads his own firm.
Since the glue dollops contain asbestos, by law they have to be handled by a certified asbestos removal company, and that puts the cost of replacing the ceiling in those six rooms at approximately $71,000, with additional expected necessary work bringing the total to “just under $100,000,” said Eric Woellhof, the plant facilities administrator.
The work would be performed by Branch Services - D.K.I., which offered the lowest bid to the board through the Board of Cooperative Education Services.
“This would come out of the $320,000?” Alison Anderson, a board member, asked Isabel Madison, the district’s business administrator, referring to the reserve fund. Ms. Madison concurred, noting that an additional $650,000, part of the budget vote in May, would remain in the reserve.
Also at the meeting, the board discussed a ceiling of another kind, the abolishment of the position of head clerk when Geri Fromm retires in mid-September. If that happens, then, for the time being, the highest position in the district would be principal clerk.
The board reluctantly agreed to approve the superintendent’s recommendation. Initially, both Patricia Hope and Alison Anderson were opposed to the motion, “out of respect for the position,” said Ms. Anderson. Ms. Hope agreed. “It’s not a lot of bucks we’re talking about,” she said of the salary differential between principal clerk and head clerk.
“Adam [Fine, the high school principal] has faith in this decision, we should respect it,” said Jacqueline Lowey, a board member. George Aman agreed. “This is a case of micromanagement,” he said. “This is a reasonable recommendation, it’s not gross mismanagement.”
It was explained that keeping the civil service denomination of principal clerk while jettisoning head clerk would allow the board to hire from within the district, since there is currently no one locally who would be able to step into Ms. Fromm’s position. And, the board agreed, time is of the essence, so that Ms. Fromm can lead someone new through his or her paces before she retires on Sept. 19.
“I know there are some bad feelings among the staff about this,” said Ms. Anderson, but she and Ms. Hope changed their votes after hearing that the job of principal clerk would allow them to “hire from inside,” said Kerri Stevens, the district clerk.