BOE’s first in-person meeting: Review of hybrid return and buildings survey

PINE PLAINS — The Pine Plains Central School District Board of Education (BOE) met in-person for the first time in seven months on Wednesday, Oct. 21, since COVID-19 hit New York in March. The BOE met in the high school library; the meeting can now be viewed at

Introducing Tom Ritzenthaler, an executive principal with CSArch, an architecture, engineering and construction management firm, Superintendent of Schools Martin Handler said CSArch completed a survey of the district, which Ritzenthaler then presented.

Ritzenthaler explained the survey was a visual inspection of the district, which is required in 2020 and again in 2022, depending on the district’s building conditions survey schedule. He went through the findings, gave project recommendations and budget estimates for work CSArch thinks is most critical. 

After outlining the capital planning process, Ritzenthaler gave an abridged version of his findings. Among his recommendations, he pointed out the roof replacement needed at Cold Spring Early Learning Center and Seymour Smith Intermediate Learning Center; the masonry restoration, floor tile replacement and boiler replacement at Seymour Smith; and the replacement of the middle school gymnasium floor. Should the BOE decide to proceed with all of the recommendations, the total cost is estimated at $7.7 million.

Breaking down the work by its individual costs, the roof replacement at Cold Spring came to just under $2.4 million while the roof replacement at Seymour Smith was calculated at $1.7 million. The masonry work at Seymour Smith came to $776,000 while the boiler replacement came to $1.2 million and the floor tile replacement came to $850,000. The replacement of the middle school gym floor at Stissing Mountain came to $526,000. Totaling $4.8 million, Ritzenthaler deemed the two roof replacements and the masonry work as projects that should be done immediately.

The projects would begin some time in the summer of 2022, at the earliest. BOE President Chip Couse reported on a later date that the BOE is likely to make a decision by its first meeting in December.

Handler, meanwhile, said the reopening on Monday, Oct. 19,  went well and while they had a couple of bumps in the road, it was nothing the principals and Transportation Department haven’t been able to resolve. He added every student gets checked every day before entering the school building, and that the students seem thrilled to be back to school. 

In terms of moving forward with a hybrid return for students in grades sixth through 12th, Handler said he would like to reopen in stages to “get our feet wet and make sure it’s manageable.” He wants to look into a hybrid return for students in grades sixth through eighth with an anticipated return date of Monday, Nov. 9. 

He said he wants to have two to three weeks of experience with the elementary school levels and see what’s happening around the county first. As for Stissing Mountain students, he said he’d like to go through another two to three weeks with students in grades sixth through eighth with an anticipated hybrid return date for Stissing Mountain students scheduled for Monday, Nov. 30.

The BOE also adopted its 2020-21 goals, which can be read online.

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