A Texas school district says its junior high is in desperate need of major repairs, but they can’t afford to do the work because of the vast amounts of toxic asbestos inside the building that will have to be removed or encapsulated before the renovations are attempted.
According to an article in the Cleburne Times-Review, the Alvarado Independent School District announced that all repairs scheduled to occur at Alvarado Junior High have been put on indefinite hold until they figure out what to do about the asbestos problem at the school. The district had planned to paint and tile a good portion of the school this summer, but tests performed to assess the level of asbestos concentration in sheetrock, tile, joint compound, and other areas determined that asbestos made up at least 2 percent of all building materials tested.
“Whenever something has to be done in the way of renovation, you have to do abatement, which is a costly process,” said AISD Superintendent Chester Juroska. “Abatement is [the process of] taking precautions when dust flies. It can be as special as workers going in [the building] with suits and oxygen, or as simple as wetting the material down before anything is done.”
“We had to spend several thousand dollars just to find out that we have to spend several thousand more dollars,” Juroska added.
Though an assigned asbestos coordinator walks through the school every 6 months to make sure asbestos materials are not being disturbed and remain in acceptable condition, teachers are being given a new set of rules to keep them from suffering exposure to asbestos. For example, they are no longer allowed to drill or hammer anything into the walls, according to Juroska. It simply isn’t safe and such behavior could eventually affect their health and the health of Alvarado Junior High’s students because breathing in asbestos fibers could eventually result in the development of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma cancer.
Though local voters already turned down a bond issue that would have allotted $44 million for a new school, Juroska said he hopes the district can try for another bond election as soon as May 2013, because nothing can safely be done to renovate the school and, as time passes, the situation could worsen, leaving the town no choice but to either spend an extensive amount of money on asbestos abatement or build a new facility for the town’s junior high students.