Mold prompts Jersey Shore to delay school; date to be set

JERSEY SHORE — After mold issues caused the Jersey Shore Area School District to close its buildings last week, the district is planning to delay its opening but is unsure for how long.

At the school board meeting on Monday, Superintendent Dr. Jill Wenrich said the district’s plan is to start school next week.

“It will probably begin on Wednesday of next week,” she said. “But I can’t even guarantee that at this point, but that’s the backup plan right now for it.”

She said the district wants to hold orientations and open houses before school starts. With the previous current start date of Wednesday, these events had to be before that but have been unable to be held due to the process of cleaning the buildings.

“We have had several plans. I had a plan going into this evening that earlier this evening had to get changed again,” she said. “I will tell you that we do plan, and we always have multiple plans.”

She said there will be emails and “One Calls,” the district’s notification service to parents, with further details about changes in the school’s opening today. There will also be information posted on the district’s website.

“We are doing our best to keep you informed,” she said.

ServiceMaster, a cleaning and restoration company, is working with the district to eradicate the surface mold that was found at Salladasburg Elementary and the senior high school last week.

“As many of you are aware, we discovered what was deemed surface mold last Wednesday,” she said. “We’ve been in contact with an environmental health consultant and are taking corrective actions as necessary in order to ensure the buildings are safe for our teachers, students and staff to return.”

Wenrich responded to public comments during the meeting asking about what the district’s plan would be as the board discussed a new policy regarding public comments during the meeting.

The board gave policy 903, which deals with public comment, a first read during the meeting. The policy will require a second read before it is voted on and adopted as board policy.

Currently, the board policy allows the public to speak for three minutes, but the board does not answer any questions and refers residents to answers later posted on the district website under the FAQs.

The new board policy will allow for a period of time for the board to answer questions during the public meeting if possible. It also will allow for the questions to be answered in following board meetings if not answered during the meeting the question is asked.

Wenrich said the answers could happen during either the superintendent’s report or communications in the next meeting’s agenda for any questions that may need research to answer instead of answering right away.

Additionally, the new policy will allow for two public comment sessions. The first public comment session will last for a maximum of 30 minutes before the board votes on agenda items to give the public a chance to talk about any issues about the agenda, and the second public comment may be made regarding anything after the board votes on agenda items.

Members of the public will also sign up to for a talking order if the new policy is adopted.

“I’m glad to see this is progressing the way it is,” said Harry Brungard, board member. “I think we need this.”

Present at the meeting were members Craig Allen, Mary Thomas, Dr. John Pecchia, Merrill Sweitzer, Brungard, Christopher Fravel, Michelle Stemler, Karen Stover and Kelley Wasson.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at the administration building, 175 A and P Drive.