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Chatfield School Board discusses asbestos abatement for old school

Fri, Nov 6th, 2009
Posted in Education

The Chatfield School Board held a special meeting on Monday, November 2, at 7 p.m. to discuss asbestos abatement at the old elementary school and further renovations at the high school. One member was absent.

The board began with a discussion about asbestos abatement and demolition at the old elementary school and Potter Auditorium with the hope of reaching a plan of action, which the board could present to a committee being organized by the city. Among the main concerns was the cost of renovation versus demolition. While the board members agreed that the community's support of the building is an important factor to consider, some members also were curious as to how much money demolition of the building would save the district. By keeping the building, the district faces both the cost of renovating it now and the costs of upkeep and utilities in the future. However, the board also agreed that making a final decision now is difficult since no one is quite sure what the future will bring. Board member Greg LaPlante commented that he "likes black and white," that things would be a lot easier if the board knew where they'll be in three years or so. The members briefly discussed leasing the building for three years, at which time they could make a more informed decision for the future. However, before any definite time frame is negotiated, the building needs to be treated for the asbestos problem. Board member F. Mike Tuohy then pointed out that, out of the school board, the city, and the EDA, the school board is the only group without a resolution passed regarding the asbestos abatement. The board then approved a motion to proceed with the abatement, which will include pre-demolition treatment on the 1954 portion of the building, pre-renovation treatment on Potter and the 1918 section, and reduction of asbestos in some chalkboard adhesive within the buildings.

Second on the agenda was a list of further purchases to be considered regarding the high school renovation and the new elementary school. Superintendent Don Hainlen presented the list to the board, explaining that most of the items could be put off until a later date and that they still need to prioritize which items are the most important to complete. After board members Kathy Schellhammer and Tuohy both suggested additional projects to the list, Hainlen pointed out that it is still a work in progress. Some items are building-specific, such as landscaping at the elementary or remodeling the high school bathrooms; other items affected both buildings, such as the need for new band instruments for the 5th and 6th graders at the elementary who can no longer share with the high school students due to their different locations. The board decided to keep updating the list and to try to estimate dollar amounts for each of the items listed.

The board will next convene at their regular monthly meeting on November 16th, 2009. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the high school media center. All community members are invited to attend.

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