LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — As the school district continues to grapple with a roofing project gone awry, Pinelands Regional Superintendent Maryann Banks has submitted her letter of resignation.
The Pinelands Board of Education at its Monday meeting accepted Banks’ resignation effective Dec. 15, according to school board President Susan Ernst, of Little Egg Harbor.
Banks declined to comment Wednesday.
Speaking for herself only, Ernst said the news of Banks’ departure has taken a toll on her.
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“I am saddened by the resignation. I am angry that it has come to this and feel that she is, as I stated in public, the best we’ve had in a decade,” Ernst said.
Banks, of Toms River, was hired for the 2016-17 school year as the interim superintendent, replacing Robert Blake, who resigned in 2016.
Banks also has served as interim superintendent in Hamilton Township and Little Egg Harbor. From 2009 until her retirement in 2012, she was the school superintendent in Vineland and, according to state data, earned a salary of $165,444.
Per her interim contract, now in its second year, Banks earns a daily rate of $670 not to exceed $174,689. Banks’ contract was set to expire in June 2018, and state law mandates she cannot serve for more than two years in any interim position.
Meanwhile, the district has been undergoing a permanent superintendent search with help from the New Jersey School Boards Association.
Ernst said district Director of Curriculum Cheryl Stevenson will serve as acting superintendent until June 30, 2018, as per her contract.
The Pinelands Regional Board of Education serves students in grades seventh through 12th from Little Egg Harbor Township, Bass River Township, Tuckerton and Eagleswood Township with a junior high and high school. The approximately 1,580 students are currently in split sessions as repairs continue on the high school roof.
Stevenson was serving as acting superintendent earlier this year when the first concerns about asbestos from the roofing project were announced at an early October school board meeting. At the time, Banks was out of the district for unknown reasons and Stevenson ordered the district closed for air quality testing.
The high school was closed indefinitely a week later after a screw fell on a student.
Since then, more tests have shown asbestos contamination at the nearby playground and around the perimeter of the high school from the roofing project.
Concerned parents have organized in a private Facebook group to discuss issues related to the project. Most recently, the parents have sent out a letter to parents from other school districts warning them of possible exposure to asbestos if they had visited the school earlier this year.
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The spokesman of the parent group, Dane Apgar, of Little Egg Harbor, said Banks’ resignation caught him off guard. He said is unsure whether Banks’ resignation will rectify the problems in the district.
“It’s hard to say with all the things that happened at the school. You don’t know who to believe,” Apgar said, adding he will take a “wait-and-see attitude.”
In the past two weeks, the parent group has sent out letters to local, state, county and federal agencies, as well as the sending-district school boards, requesting an investigation into the district and the roofing project, Apgar said.
He said the school board approved a resolution at its Monday meeting requesting an investigation of the matter by the New Jersey Department of Education.
School Business Administrator Stephen Brennan was unavailable Wednesday morning for comment.