Board approves air monitoring site

JERSEY SHORE — The Jersey Shore Area School Board voted 8-1 to approve a license agreement between the state Department of Environmental Protection and the district regarding an air monitoring station at Salladasburg Elementary School.

Voting yes were members Kelley Wasson, Craig Allen, Dr. John Pecchia, Karen Stover, Christopher Fravel, Mary Thomas, Michelle Stemler and Harry Brungard. Member Merrill Sweitzer voted no.

The agreement means an income of $1,200 annually for the district for 5 years at a rate of $100 per month.

“The key question would be why? Why is this air monitoring station being requested?” Sweitzer asked.

Superintendent Dr. Jill Wenrich said the current closest monitoring station is located at the Montoursville state police barracks.

“It is a very old, out-dated monitoring system. The state is looking for an area closer to Jersey Shore to place the new monitoring system, which is a much more accurate monitoring system in that it will be able to measure particles tiny enough to be able to tell whether the air quality around the Salladasburg area is OK for individuals to intake,” she said.

She said there is a known gas site that blows gas particles into the air.

“Williams Gas takes every precaution to insure that students and faculty are not in the area … They have promised that the dissipation occurs prior to affecting the ground. However, we do not know that currently,” she said.

Wenrich said it is important to know the air quality is safe for students and the community.

Christopher Kenyon, solicitor, said the agreement requires that DEP is required to obtain any zoning or permitting approvals itself through any appropriate entities.

Brungard said it is important to keep the fact that the district is considering building closures in mind, and the station would be at one of the possible building closure locations. He said it may be possible to deed the specific part of land with the station on it to the township later on.

“I can’t see that being any deterrent to the sale of that building there if that were to be the case,” he said.

Kenyon also said the possibility of the building being sold in the future was considered with new owners in mind.

“There is an out clause that allows the district, the new owners or DEP to get out of that agreement,” Kenyon said.

In other business, Steven P. Keen, high school assistant principal, and Justin Armbruster, middle school assistant principal, gave an updated presentation on the Secondary Academy for the district’s possibility of looking at a reconfiguration of grades 7-12.

The presentation, which included the setup that grades 7-8 would have their own section in the high school in the E Wing, also came with different bell schedules and lunch times to keep grades 7-8 separated from grades 9-12.

“The times differ … and that was the challenge, making sure that the times differ so that students are moving through the hallway at different times,” Keen said. “We don’t have a mass collection of students in the hallways of 7-12 … Our 7-8 students are moving at different times.”

The system also included the use of hall monitors to make sure students stay in their separated areas.

“We request the use of hall monitors to manage … to prevent 9-12 graders coming up here,” Keen said.

Keen said that traffic to and from the school would also not change if the reconfiguration happened.

“This will not change for us whatsoever. It’s the same as it is today, maybe tomorrow and next year, probably years down the road,” he said.

He said the same buses would go through the school but would just continue to go through to the middle school, but now those buses will simply drop students off at the high school. So, they would not change the system or add traffic.

He did say that the additional staff needed would change the parking lot.

“Since we’ll have additional staff and faculty for the Secondary Academy … about 30 parking spaces will need to switch to faculty and staff parking,” he said. “Students will lose about 30 parking spaces in the main lot.”

He said there are about 130 spaces available in the current model.

“So, traffic would stay the same, but there would be some spaces taken away,” he said.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at the administrative building, 175 A and P Drive.