Tags Posts tagged with "PW Grosser Consulting"

PW Grosser Consulting

As part of the relocation plan, eight-graders were sent to Northport High School. File photo

Following the closure of Northport Middle School after elevated levels of benzene were found in two separate septic systems near the building, district officials and the community are adjusting to the relocation of more than 600 middle school students into three different schools.

The plan called for eight-graders to relocate to Northport High School, for seventh-graders to go to East Northport Middle School, and for sixth-graders to settle in at Norwood Avenue Elementary School beginning Jan. 24. 

Superintendent Robert Banzer said the first several days in their new buildings have gone well for NMS students. 

“I was happy to hear of how welcoming each school was to the NMS students on their first days, and I anticipate that their efforts to ensure a caring environment will continue,” he said. “As we move through this transition our families have been extremely patient and flexible.”

Rich Rowehl, a Northport parent who has a daughter in the seventh grade, said the first week of the transition has gone as good as it could have.

“To be able to pull off what they did [in a short amount of time] is a monumental task,” he said. “I commend the district for doing this, and I hope going forward we can find a workable [permanent] solution.”

The transition is still a work in progress, Rowehl said. Parents expressed concerns about crowded lunchrooms and lack of lockers at the board of education meeting that night. Sixth-graders at Norwood Avenue Elementary School don’t have access to lockers. Seventh-graders were moved into a larger cafeteria at ENMS due to the size of the class. The superintendent acknowledged that they are still ironing out some logistical issues.

Rowehl stressed that this is still an ongoing process and there’s a lot that needs to come out. 

“The firm is still conducting tests [at NMS],” he said. “We have to wait to see what else it finds. Then is it safe to return or does the school need to permanently close? We know they found mercury/benzene but what else is there?”

The Northport resident said the committee and district need to continue to be transparent on what the firm finds and strive to find a permanent solution that will make everyone happy. 

Ideas from community members and parents have been floated around. Due to decreasing enrollment in the district, one of the elementary schools could be repurposed as a new middle school, or possibly the William J. Brosnan administrative building could be reopened as a school. Banzer said there has been no discussion of a permanent plan outside of the closure of the building for the remainder of this school year, adding that PW Grosser Consulting will continue its testing and review all data prior to finalizing the report to the district.

by -
0 566
Northport Middle School closes classrooms after elevated levels of toxic mercury were detected in a leaching pool outside near G-wing.

Elevated levels of mercury, an odorless toxic chemical, were detected Jan. 6 in the leaching pool area outside of the Northport Middle School. 

Three classrooms in the G-wing were closed in response “out of an abundance of caution.” The results of air quality tests in the classroom are still pending. Otherwise, it was business as usual at the school the days following the incident.

Parents and some retired teachers have raised numerous ongoing health concerns that they say stem from the chemicals and mold that has been found in various locations on school grounds. The building, they say, should be permanently closed. 

The incident is the latest issue parents argue that deems the site unsafe for children and teachers. The decision to close a school for air quality concerns falls under the jurisdiction of the school board, according to county and state health agencies. 

The district has stated on multiple occasions that it has found no evidence of unsafe air or conditions that would justify closure.

As stated in an email from Superintendent Robert Banzer sent to parents, PW Grosser Consulting, the environmental firm that discovered the elevated mercury levels, recommended that classrooms G-51 and G-52 remain unoccupied until further notice. G-51 has not been occupied since Dec. 10 stemming from a foul “rotten-egg” odor that was blamed on the school’s new heating and ventilation system.  

PWGC also recommended that students not occupy classroom G-53.  PWGC also recommended further air and vapor testing inside classrooms G-51, G-52 and G-53. 

Some parents, though, say students should be moved immediately. Former board member Tammie Topel said in a public letter that’s been widely circulated that sixth-graders should be scheduled to attend school at their home elementary school and seventh and eighth-graders should be moved to the district’s other middle school.  A 35 percent school population drop, she said, suggests that it is a viable option to explore. (See Topel’s open letter on page 18.)

The ongoing string of incidences raises serious questions about outside oversight of health standards in school districts. Several families in 2018 filed suit alleging that the district, county, town, state and the county and state health departments alleging personal injury induced by toxic exposures as a result of negligence. 

That year, the school remodeled its K-wing after toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds were found in the building. 

Lawyers representing some of the families did not respond to messages left with their office.  

Last month, in response to a Nov. 20 TBR News Media article that exposed that the Northport-East Northport School District was in violation of some laws governing petroleum bulk storage, district officials announced that they would move its bus depot and refueling station from its location at the middle school to Cavay’s Building & Lumber Supply on Brightside Avenue. 

Meanwhile, a petition posted on Change. org called Close Northport Middle School has garnered over 3,050 signatures.

Banzer did not respond to request for comment prior to going to print about whether or not the board is discussing closing the school or relocating students. 

District Hires Environmental Firm to Test Middle School

Northport district officials have found an alternative location for its bus depot. Photo from Close Northport MS Facebook page

In response to a Nov. 20 TBR News Media article that uncovered that the Northport-East Northport school district was in violation of laws governing petroleum bulk storage, district officials announced at the Dec. 12 board meeting that they found a new bus depot and refueling location.

“We have found an alternate location and the resolution would allow the school board to enter negotiations to finalize that work with Cavay’s [Building & Lumber Supply] on Brightside Ave.,” Robert Banzer, superintendent of schools, said.

Over the last several weeks, the district addressed its violations with the Suffolk County Health Department and officials there said that the site was reinspected without violations found.

A separate resolution unanimously passed that would allow the district to utilize the fueling facilities operated by the Village of Northport for its bus fleet and maintenance.

“We are still seeking other possible methods of fueling, including [reaching out to] some of our other municipalities. We have reached out to them and they are considering it, “ Banzer said. “By January we should have this [relocation] in motion, if not sooner.”

Other highlights of the meeting include the board approving the subcommittee’s recommendations in hiring PW Grosser Consulting, a Bohemia-based environmental firm to begin framing a soil testing plan for the Northport Middle School. The firm would recommend soil testing parameters to the district beginning sometime in January.

The subcommittee members said that the firm could come do an initial walk-through of the building as early as later that week and would do other work throughout the winter break when students aren’t in school.

The announcements were made just days after students were again evacuated from several classrooms in the middle school after children were overcome by fumes.

A parent of a middle school student who spoke at the meeting said that children should be moved out of the school while testing is being done.

“We are very concerned, we need an answer ourselves on how this [testing] is going to happen,” he said. “The safe alternative is that they [the students] leave the school, and you do your testing.”

Subcommittee member Lauren Handler said as a group they haven’t discussed that as an official topic but agreed that the kids shouldn’t be in the building when they don’t know if its safe.

No vote was formally conducted on that issue.

State and county health officials have stated that the school board has jurisdiction over air quality at the school and not health officials.

The subcommittee plans to meet each Monday, beginning Jan. 6 or 13 of next year.