Asbestos School Roundup

In Arizona, the Tempe Union High School District will be testing all of its campuses for asbestos contamination after efforts to retrieve documents that outlined the removal of asbestos from school buildings came up empty. The buildings had an asbestos removal program in the early 1990s, but administrators have not been able to recover the documentation that shows the work was done. The asbestos status of the schools became an issue after asbestos-containing blocks were found in an outbuilding at one school site, and a cleanup effort was mounted to abate the contamination at that site. Parents grew concerned and asked the school district for information on the schools’ asbestos status; it was at that point that administrators discovered the missing documents. The air quality tests will cost less than $10,000 according to district officials; the schools were tested in 1996, after the earlier cleanup process, and showed no asbestos contamination at that time. In Pennsylvania, the Assumption BVM School in West Grove has received a total of $70,000 in grants to continue an asbestos removal project at the school.

The building was built in 1959 and is in the second phase of a three-phase asbestos removal and renovation project involving the removal of asbestos from the ceilings and insulation areas of several classrooms and a hall area. The school has yearly safety checks to verify that asbestos is not being released into the air. The grants for the renovation project came from the Connelly Foundation of West Conshohocken, the Baskob Foundation of Wilmington, and the 2008 Meso Walk, a charity walk in Philadelphia. The school still needs to raise $32,000 for the final phase of the cleanup project, which will replace doors which have asbestos-containing caulking. In New York, the staff and students of the Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology will be spending the next school year at Philip Schuyler Elementary School while work crews conduct a major asbestos removal and abatement program. Approximately 500 students are affected by the move, which was prompted when a renovation project at the school discovered that the ceiling of the school was heavily contaminated with asbestos fibers. The renovation plan had been for students to attend school during the week while crews worked nights and weekends, but the discovery of the asbestos means that students should not be in the building until the asbestos contamination can be removed. The students will attend their normal program while at Philip Schuyler, which does not have classes of its own and is a “swing space” for the district to house programs and classes which need space.