Asbestos discovery closes Schroon school

SCHROON LAKE - Schroon Lake Central School closed Wednesday after asbestos was unexpectedly found during a building project.

The asbestos was found Monday by workers, who immediately sealed off the area.

School officials decided to close school Wednesday to allow for the removal of the cancer-causing substance and subsequent air quality testing.

"It allows us to have the asbestos removed Tuesday after we close the building and to have all air samples back before re-opening Thursday," Superintendent Mike Bonnewell said Monday. "It's not anticipated to take more than a day."

The school is in the midst of a $14.7 million renovation and expansion project.

Bonnewell said most of the work to date has been outside the actual school building, but when workers tore down an interior wall they discovered asbestos.

"This is a matter of being triple safe," Bonnewell said. "We obviously would never expose our students or staff to any hazardous material. If for some reason we're not ready on Thursday, school will be closed again although we don't anticipate any further problems."

The unexpected day off will count as one of the district's allotted five snow/emergency days.

Asbestos is commonly found in buildings constructed before the 1970s. The Schroon Lake school was erected in 1935-36.

The current construction project, technically two projects - a $13.4 million upgrade of the existing school building and a separate $1.3 million conversion of the current combination gym/auditorium into an auditorium. The work is scheduled to be completed by fall 2010.

Voters approved both measures June 28, 2006.

The first proposition totals $13,398,159.

It calls for repairs to the school's exterior, replacement of single-pane windows and doors installed in the 1960s, installation of a state-mandated storm water basin, installation of mandated fire doors, installation of safety systems, asbestos and lead containment, installation of a state-mandated elevator for handicap accessibility, electrical upgrades, an energy efficiency system, replacement of boilers and internet accessibility.

The proposition also calls for construction of five new classrooms for pre-kindergarten, elementary science, special education, speech and occupational and physical therapy as well as a gymnasium and locker rooms. Current classrooms will be refurbished.

The second proposition totals $1,329,742.

It calls for the current combination gym/auditorium to be converted into an auditorium with additional permanent seating, improved lighting, improved sound system and new stage rigging and curtains.

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