Jordan School District is looking at expenses of more than a half million dollars over the next two fiscal years for federally mandated asbestos management - money district officials would rather spend on education.
This year, the asbestos abatement program ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency has cost the district $98,000. That involved making surveys and testing building materials in the district's 73 schools, 117 portable units and five administration buildings. A management plan has been developed for each of the buildings and submitted to the state health department.Thursday night, Randal C. Haslam reported that only 18 schools, primarily those built after 1978, are asbestos-free. Materials containing asbestos were found in the other schools, but no situations exist that pose a significant danger to students or teachers, he said. The district is required to notify parents, teachers and other personnel of the status of each school in which asbestos was found.
Haslam, who was hired a year ago as the district's architectural specialist, said some asbestos was removed or encapsulated as it was discovered. Most of the problem areas are in basements and tunnels where pipes are insulated with asbestos-bearing materials.
Many of the schools have vinyl tile that contain asbestos, he said, but the government regulations do not require that it be removed, since fibers are not likely to be released into the air. District housekeeping and maintenance personnel have been trained to keep the potential for exposure to a minimum.
Haslam presented the board nine boxes containing the reports. They must be kept on file in the district offices, available to the public if requested.
In the 1989-90 school year, $250,000 will be needed to deal with asbestos abatement in the elementary schools and a like figure should be planned for the following year for secondary schools, board members were told. Even so, the district will save up to $100,000 each of the years because its own employees have been trained to do much of the work.
Board Member Maurine Jensen questioned the expense of the project or the need for it.
"Our children leave the schools and go to homes where the same building materials are used," she said. "Too much money is going to this that should be going to education. We are the victims of fanaticism."
Haslam said medical studies of a group of 50,000 people estimated only a half death (in statistical terms) for the group related to asbestos, compared with 12 from bicycle accidents and eight from football injuries. Half of the deaths in the group were related to tobacco use, he said.
"But we're stuck with it because it's the law."