PERU — Summer renovations to Peru Central Intermediate School have necessitated additional asbestos abatement.
The hazardous material was recently removed from hallway ceilings on both floors of the Intermediate School after it was unexpectedly disturbed during renovations to the building.
Peru Central School Superintendent Dr. Patrick Brimstein said the abatement came at a cost of $20,000.
Earlier in the summer, asbestos, which was used in the past in building materials as an insulator and fire retardant, was also abated from floor tiles in the Intermediate School.
The district, however, did not anticipate having to remove it from the building’s ceiling, Brimstein said.
“In 1938, when this building was constructed, asbestos was commonly used,” he wrote in an email to the Press-Republican.
“This was before people knew about the dangers.”
IN TIME FOR SCHOOL
But while it is now known to cause a serious lung condition known as asbestosis, it is only when the material becomes disturbed and its fibers airborne that it poses a health risk.
Brimstein said the district was aware of the asbestos in the ceiling, but expected to find it safely fixed in place. Instead, when the old ceiling tiles were being removed, the asbestos began to break off.
The material has been safely abated from both the first- and second-floor hallways of the building, he said, and the air on the first floor was tested and deemed free of asbestos fibers.
The district is now awaiting results of second-floor air tests before continuing with installation of new ceiling tiles there.
Brimstein said he has been told by the building crew that the renovations will be completed on schedule and in time for the start of the upcoming school year despite the setback.
“I’m pushing pretty hard behind the scenes to make sure that happens,” he said.
‘SAFETY TRUMPS ALL’
In addition to the new flooring and ceilings, the renovations also include building improvements in preparation for incoming sixth-graders, who will be housed in the Intermediate School in 2012-13. Due to budget constraints, the School Board opted to relocate the classes there from the Middle School.
Brimstein said he is committed to making sure construction is completed in time for staff associated with the sixth-grade move to get settled into the new work environment before students arrive.
The Intermediate School renovations are part of the final phase of Peru Central’s district-wide EXCEL capital improvement project, which was approved by voters in March 2008. The work encompassed the modernization of heating, window and ventilation systems; flooring and bathrooms; the renovation of several program spaces, including the High School auditorium and gymnasium; and lighting components in a number of classrooms.
“The bulk of the work was done in the first two phases of the project,” Brimstein said.
Due to the unexpected abatement expenditure, some minor improvements to the Intermediate School building, such as painting, will be done by the district’s Buildings and Grounds crews.
That way, he said, costs can be minimized.
“When there’s a safety issue, that trumps all,” Brimstein said.
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