Vermont High School Needs Funds to Remove Asbestos Hazard

A Vermont high school in desperate need of renovation is appealing to local voters for funds to address its many problems – including the removal of potentially hazardous asbestos from the building.

Milton High School was built in 1969, and it hasn’t changed much since then. According to local Fox TV affiliate Fox44, school officials are asking Milton residents to vote yes on a $6 million bond to fund renovations to the building. Proposed repairs include mold remediation and the remodeling of the cafeteria, bathrooms, and locker rooms to make them handicapped accessible.

One of the most pressing needs is for the removal of asbestos from the high school’s floors. Although asbestos-containing tiles are considered relatively safe when in good condition, they can deteriorate over time and become dangerous.

Asbestos materials that are damaged or disturbed may release tiny fibers into the air that can be inhaled. Inhaling asbestos can lead to very serious diseases such as mesothelioma, a fatal and aggressive cancer. In the U.S., there are 3,200 mesothelioma cases diagnosed annually.

Childhood exposure to asbestos in schools is of particular concern because the symptoms of asbestos-related disease take a long time to appear. Mesothelioma symptoms, for example, can take up to 50 years to emerge after initial asbestos exposure.

Despite the risk posed by asbestos to students and staff, proponents of the high school renovations have their work cut out for them: Milton voters rejected a $10 million bond proposal last March that would have paid for a more comprehensive rebuild, according to Fox44. Milton High School officials have since scaled back the plan and argue that $6 million is the minimum amount that it will take to bring the school up to code.

Milton will hold special election over the bond issue in December.