The May 14 Garden City Board of Education meeting began with an update by Construction Manager Frank Guidice of Kreisler Borg Florman (KBF) about the construction progress at the three schools which are currently being worked on. Though the work is progressing well, material was found at Stewart School that had to be tested but the district expects that it will be non-hazardous and dealt with quickly.
According to Guidice, site work at Stratford Elementary School has been completed and they are now just paving and re-striping the parking lots. They plan to begin planting soon and they are now completing a small number of punchlist items, things that the district was not satisfied with.
At Stewart School the gymnasium has been turned over to the district for use. Guidice noted that there are some minor concerns about the gymnasium regarding a couple of backstops. School Board Trustee Ken Monaghan commented on the gymnasium, which he said was a "beautiful space" and "spectacular." According to Guidice a minor glitch involving the sitework contractor was expected to be cleared up the following day. Guidice added that there is still an outstanding issue with regard to masonry repair. The north addition has been turned over for occupation.
When asked by School Board Trustee John Klupka if there would be a parking lot at Stewart School anytime soon, Guidice explained that while excavating the parking lot, some suspect material was unearthed and had to be sent out for testing. They believed the material to be firebrick from old boilers, from the days when boilers were made of brick containing asbestos. Guidice said that when the boilers were removed, they may have been used to fill. "It may be nothing but it looks to be some kind of cinder from some boiler application," said Guidice. Tim Almeida, director of facilities stated that once a material such as this is found the district does not have a choice but to test it. He stressed that there is no hazard to the occupants of the building or to anybody on the site, but noted that how the material is disposed of is dependent on what they find it to be. They were expecting to receive confirmation of what they suspected the material to be the day following the board of education meeting so they would then be able to dispose of it properly and complete that site work. Guidice said he expected the sitework there to be completed by the end of the month.
According to Guidice construction at the middle school has, "picked up quite a bit over the last couple of weeks." He noted that excavation has begun where the new classroom addition is going and they have just started to break ground where the science wing is going. He said that they have done a lot of interior asbestos abatement work and have placed flooring in the cafeteria. The library has been moved to what used to be the wrestling room while renovation work is done on the interior of the library.
When asked about the high school construction, by Board of Education President Linda Leone, Guidice explained that they were holding a kickoff meeting for that project, in which all the contractors would meet, the following Wednesday.
Toward the end of the meeting, Leone welcomed the newest member of the central administration, the new assistant superintendent for business, John Powell. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen Leitman introduced the new assistant superintendent for business, who is replacing Daniel Bryan who left the district just before the new school year began. Powell, according to Leitman, has a BPA in management, an MBA in accounting from Adelphi, a CAS in educational administration from Hofstra University. Leitman added that he has been the commissioner of finance for the City of White Plains since 1994. Prior to that he was the assistant to the superintendent for business in the Sachem Central School District, from 1987-1994. Leitman said that everyone they spoke to about Powell, "spoke of him in glowing terms." He was district treasurer, head accountant for the Roosevelt School District from 1983-1987. "This was an exhaustive search that began last August when Mr. Bryan left the district," said Leitman, thanking Fred Smith who was serving in the position during the interim for his efforts in the search. According to Leitman they interviewed at least 25 candidates for this position, many of whom are currently assistant superintendents in other districts. "John [Powell] came through with a great deal of knowledge, ability, and also the ability to talk to people and work with the people and the skills he has in interpersonal relationships." Leitman welcomed Powell and said that he is looking forward to working with him.
Following a round of applause, Powell stated, "Thank you everybody. I just want to thank the superintendent and board of education for giving me this opportunity and I'm anxiously waiting to start in a couple of weeks and I hope to meet each and every one of you and I believe my experience will complement many of the things that are going on in the district and I hope to continue to contribute towards the excellence that's been in the Garden City Public Schools."