And now, we present this week’s Asbestos School: the Faulkner Career-Technical Center in Pritchard, Alabama. At the Faulkner Center, students train for occupations that do not require college degrees, enabling them to qualify for more lucrative employment in a shorter time.
Since asbestos was discovered in the attic of one of the buildings last month, students in cosmetology as well as health and child care professions have been completing their training at a nearby elementary school, which was recently closed after a new building was constructed. Other students have been moved out of the building in question and are attending classes in other buildings on campus. According to Tommy Sheffield, who is Facilities Manager for the Mobile County Public School System, students were never in any real danger, since they had no access to the attic, where the asbestos was found. In addition, the air in the building has been tested; these tests failed to turn up any friable asbestos fibers. “The children have never been exposed or in any danger at all,” Sheffield assured the community.
Another school district employee, Nancy Pierce, acknowledged that “most of the [school] buildings built before the mid-1980s have asbestos somewhere in them.” To its credit, the Mobile County Schools undertook a major asbestos abatement project 20 years ago in order to remove or encapsulate any asbestos that might have represented a public health hazard. Since then, school officials check for asbestos every three years, while all school employees undergo training in how to identify asbestos. Although the school district was not legally obligated to remove the asbestos–since it was in an area to which there was no public access–the choice was to have it removed anyway, so as to avoid potential future problems. Although not specifically stated, the choice to have the asbestos removed may have to do with the fact that the 85-year-old building is scheduled to have its ceiling and lights replaced in the next several weeks. The total bill for removing the asbestos will come to $60,000.