PERU — Patrick Brimstein has been using his first weeks as leader of Peru Central School to familiarize himself with the inner workings of the district.
“It’s been a steep learning curve this week, and I imagine the next few months will be the same, and I appreciate everybody’s input (and) everybody’s perspective,” he said at this month’s School Board meeting, his first since taking over as Peru Central’s superintendent on July 1.
Brimstein succeeds Dr. Thomas Stapleford, who was appointed superintendent of the school in June 2011 upon the retirement of A. Paul Scott. Stapleford, however, resigned from the post last October, citing bipolar disorder as the reason for his departure.
Scott returned to serve as interim superintendent of the district until a long-term replacement could be found.
Before taking over at Peru Central, Brimstein was principal of Wheatland-Chili High School in Scottsville for six years.
He told meeting attendees that one of his top priorities so far has been to familiarize himself with the district’s ongoing EXCEL capital-improvement project.
“One of the first things I’ve done is meet with the onsite construction teams, as well as the district architect.”
The project, which was approved by voters in March 2008, includes the modernization of heating, window and ventilation systems; flooring and bathrooms; the renovation of several program spaces, including the High School auditorium and gymnasium; and lighting components in a number of classrooms.
Though it has been under way for the past few years, construction has been largely limited to the summer months, when school is not in session.
Much of the final phase of the project, which focuses on renovations to the Intermediate School, as well as some remodeling of the Primary School for better flow within the building, is expected to be completed by the start of the 2012-13 academic year.
Brimstein told the Press-Republican in a separate interview that asbestos, found in floor tiles in the Intermediate School, is being abated and that new vinyl flooring and ceiling tiles will be installed in the building.
In addition, mold — found late last summer in the Intermediate School basement and believed to have resulted from Tropical Storm Irene flooding — has been remediated, he said.
The area affected by the mold houses non-instructional rooms, which were not used this past school year.
Wet materials have been removed from the area, and the air in the Intermediate School basement has been tested, Brimstein said.
However, reconstruction to the rooms has been put on hold until the building can be sealed to prevent water from entering the basement in the future.
Brimstein said he expects the waterproofing to begin in the fall, once the work has been approved by the State Education Department, which is currently behind in granting project approvals due to understaffing.
The new superintendent told meeting attendees that in addition to tending to the construction project, he had also been busy meeting with the district’s buildings and grounds supervisor, business manager, technology supervisor, the president and vice president of the Peru Association of Teachers, members of the district’s Administrative Council and officials from Champlain Valley Educational Services.
“A lot of this is just me familiarizing myself with what is, so we can better get a sense of what can be and how we’re going to get there,” Brimstein said.
Also adjusting to new roles within the district are School Board members Donna LaRocque and Brian Post.
At the board’s reorganizational meeting, which took place immediately before the regular session, LaRocque was elected to replace Rod Driscoll as president of the board, and Post was chosen to take over LaRocque’s former duties as vice president.
Driscoll, whose term on the board recently expired, did not seek re-election.
During the closing public-comment portion of the meeting, several Peru Central employees and community members thanked the board for speaking openly about board matters and including attendees in the evening’s discussions.
“I have to say, I am extremely encouraged by tonight’s meeting,” said Peru Central parent Kathy Wyckoff.
“I feel like we’ve got an open dialogue that we haven’t had in a while.”
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