Audubon students likely won’t return to building by fall

Source: Times-Tribune (Scranton, PA), March 1, 2011
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John Audubon Elementary School students probably will not return to their school by fall, officials said at Monday’s buildings and grounds meeting of the Scranton School Board.

As engineers conduct a study to determine the scope of work needed at the closed school, district officials will determine where Audubon students will attend class.

Students could be moved to John Marshall or Lincoln-Jackson elementary schools, which will be vacant when Isaac Tripp Elementary School opens this summer, or the district will try to extend its lease for the former St. Mary’s school with the Diocese of Scranton.

Audubon has been closed since October, when high levels of mold were found. Students are now at the St. Mary’s school on River Street.

While engineers determine the cost of the work needed to reopen Audubon — at one point estimated to be $4.4 million — construction of a new school is still a possibility.

While the mold in the school’s lower level has been removed, water is still getting into the school through the walls and roof, said district engineer Gene Peters.

Structural and environmental engineers will now examine the water table, as well as the school’s foundation and roof beams, Mr. Peters said.

The mold was “decades in the making,” as the water seeped into the building, Joe Guzek¬†of Guzek Associates said. It easily could go unnoticed, but once the mold starts, it escalates, he said. Bill McDonough, director of facilities and grounds, said the district may start testing buildings regularly for mold.

Candidates speak at a work session that followed the buildings and grounds meeting, applicants for the vacant board seat were given the opportunity to address the board. Directors Paul O’Malley and President Bob Lesh were absent.

Those who addressed the board were:

  • Carol Cleary, a school guidance counselor in Monroe County, who said she would be fair-minded, honest and serve on the board with integrity.
  • Deborah Nallo, a school nurse and post-secondary instructor for the University of Phoenix, who said she wants to help the district achieve its goals.
  • Jason Shrive, an attorney, who wants to enhance reading and writing skills at the high school level and collaborate to stop “brain drain.”
  • James Dougher Jr., who said he’s an “educator, not a politician,” and has ideas to improve test scores and attendance and graduation rates.
  • Thomas Borthwick, a Riverside School District teacher, who said his experience as an educator is an important perspective for the board.
  • William Tonkin Jr., a retired Scranton teacher and coach, who said he wants to serve his community and has no political aspirations.
  • Marilyn Ruane, the pharmacist and owner of the Medicine Shoppe¬†Pharmacy on Pittston Avenue, who said she has business experience and is ready to give back to the community.
  • James Allan, a retired Scranton teacher and former director of the St. Rose Academy, who said the board would benefit from his vast experience in education.
  • William Fox, an account executive for Global Risk Management and a Dunmore football coach, who said he wants to invest his time and energy for the district.
  • Martin Wazowicz, a University of Scranton professor and retired Scranton teacher, who said he has no further political ambition and was even a champion on “Jeopardy!”
  • Sarene Stoker O’Malley, who said she has accounting skills and the time to be devoted to the district because she is unemployed and is being treated for leukemia.
  • Mary Ann Wardell, former human resources director at the Hilton Scranton and Conference Center, who said her “loyalties are with the children.”

People who applied but did not speak to the board are Debra Georgetti, Todd Hartman, Joseph Matyjevich, Sean O’Shea and Thomas Schuster. The board will appoint someone at Monday’s meeting.

In other news:

  • Officials from Aramark, the district’s food service provider, said they have resolved an issue with health insurance for cafeteria workers. The eight affected employees could have paid as much as an additional $10,500 for family plans with Aramark’s new insurance before the issue was addressed, Carol Thomas, president of the district’s maintenance, clerical and food service union, has previously told the board.
  • The district will vote on whether to grant a charter to the Howard Gardner School for Discovery at Monday’s meeting. Superintendent William King said he has not seen a “substantial difference” in how the district and private school deliver education. The board will meet Monday at 7:30 p.m.

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