Asbestos in Schools News for December 22nd, 2008

In DOBB’S FERRY, NEW YORK, the Dobbs Ferry High School auditorium was closed after asbestos was found during an annual inspection of the school. Immediately, air quality testing was ordered, but there was no sign of asbestos in the air in either the form of fibers or particles. The school reassures parents that no one was exposed to the deadly asbestos, but to be safe, the area will remain off limits until the clean-up is complete. The cause of the exposed asbestos seemed to be from water coming through a brick wall. This forced some of the asbestos to be exposed in the auditorium. Only one of the 36 surface tests done in the area within a ten-foot radius of the exposed asbestos showed any evidence of asbestos. There were no signs of asbestos on the surface tests done further away or on the exterior of the building. The New York state Department of Education agreed to work with the Dobbs Ferry school district to find a contractor to be put in charge with the asbestos abatement. The school anticipates the job taking a total of three to four days, and work would be accomplished during the Thanksgiving or Christmas break. Events at the auditorium were relocated. In PENNSYLVANIA, plans concerning a $22 million renovation project surrounding three of the elementary schools in Derry Area school district were announced at a public hearing on November 13, 2008.

The project would require a second increase in taxes for 2008 beyond the $4 million increase earlier to cover the costs not paid for by a $10 million bond received by the district. Three elementary would be affected by the plans: Grandview Elementary, New Derry, and Loyalhanna elementary schools. Grandview will have 15 new classrooms to accommodate the students from Loyalhanna and New Derry elementary schools, which will be closed. Derry Area School District chose to close both New Derry and Loyalhanna elementary schools because their enrollments were both below 50 percent and both aging schools had serious facility problems including asbestos contamination. Grandview was built nearly 20 years later and with the renovations will be able to comfortably accommodate the addition students from the other schools. Plans for Loyalhanna and New Derry have not yet been released. The school district had already closed another elementary school, Bradenville Elementary. While the district claimed that it intended to sell that site, it has yet to find a buyer for Bradenville, which saw its last student in 2004. The asbestos present in both Loyalhanna and New Derry could pose problems with reselling or reusing those sites until the asbestos present in the school buildings can be cleaned up.