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Pleasantville awards contracts for HVAC, roof repairs

Pleasantville awards contracts for HVAC, roof repairs

Pleasantville School District file

Pleasantville High School

PLEASANTVILLE — The local school district is moving forward with plans to replace HVAC equipment at three of its elementary schools in an effort to stave off future mold issues.

The school board on Tuesday approved a $1.2 million contract through the Omnia National Cooperative to purchase the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment for the Washington Avenue, Leeds Avenue and North Main Street schools. Tozour-Trane will provide the products to the district through the cooperative.

Mold issues have caused the district to close for the remainder of the school year, scrapping plans to reopen in April after more than a year of virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Superintendent Natakie Chestnut-Lee said previously the issues were found in March when the district conducted air quality tests ahead of a planned reopening.

“To realize that our HVAC systems in our buildings were in the shape they were in was A) a little bit embarrassing and, B) disheartening,” board President Julio Sanchez said Wednesday.

He said he was encouraged that the district was able to find the money necessary to move forward with the repairs and “move in the right direction to getting our district back to where it should be.”

“We’re just about at the end of our mold remediation, so that’s very good,” Sanchez said.

He said he was encouraged to know that the repairs should be completed in time for the district to offer an in-person summer school program in July.

In addition to the HVAC upgrades, the school board on Tuesday awarded a contract to Kowalski Roofing Corp. for roofing repairs at various locations at an hourly rate of $55 and a 2% material mark-up.

Chestnut-Lee said previously that either full roof replacements or repairs were needed at the high school, middle school and Washington Avenue and South Main Street elementary schools, with leaks permeating the buildings and drop ceilings covered in brown water stains.

The extent of the roof repairs under this new contract was not immediately available.

Other board news

Richard Norris has returned to the Board of Education, filling the seat vacated after the death of Juanita Pryce last month. Norris lost his seat on the board in July, when the commissioner of education ruled he did not attend a mandatory training. Norris’ former seat was filled by Yadira Falcon. Sanchez said the district advertised to fill Pryce’s seat last month and Norris was the only candidate to apply before the deadline. Norris was sworn in Friday, prior to the budget hearing.

The board voted Tuesday to terminate its contract with Karyn White, who was serving as in-house counsel for the district, a position district officials previously said was designed to save Pleasantville money on legal fees. Sanchez directed all questions regarding personnel to the superintendent, but said it was likely due to financial issues.

“Sometimes tough decisions have to be made. There’s only a certain amount of money,” Sanchez said, noting the extensive facility repairs that will cost the district millions.

Another person leaving the district is Beville Tyson, the district’s coordinator of facilities. Tyson, whose position in the district has been debated extensively over the years by board members following the departure of William “Speedy” Marsh in 2018, was formally appointed to his current role in October at a salary of $103,800 after serving for a year in the interim position.

The board voted Tuesday to accept Tyson’s resignation. Tyson was terminated from the district earlier this year by Chestnut-Lee but reinstated by state monitor Constance Bauer, Sanchez said. He said Tyson submitted his resignation sometime in the past week.

Contact Claire Lowe:


Twitter @clairelowe

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Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. After seven years at The Current and Gazette newspapers, I joined The Press in 2015. I currently cover education.

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