Monday, July 23, 2012

Comments about Schenley High School to PPS Board from a citizen

Annette Werner
July 23, 2012
PPS Public Hearing

Last month I spoke about the implications of reports that Schenley's plaster is not actually Asbestos Containing Material ("ACM").

At the time, I assumed that recent testing had been done in connection with proposals for the sale of the building.

Since that time, I have learned that the testing showing only trace levels of asbestos was actually done by Kimball in May 2009.

Although there were many news releases about how asbestos plaster was thought to be a problem at Schenley, there were apparently no news releases with corrected information when the May 2009 results were received. This failure to inform the public of corrected information is especially disturbing in light of two documents that I am including with my testimony:

1) A copy of a February 2009 petition, presented at the February 2009 public hearing and signed by 200 Pittsburgh residents, requesting an inspection of the Schenley plaster and,

2) A Right to Know Law request I submitted in April 2009 requesting a copy of "All reports prepared as part of the current facilities study regarding the condition of buildings and work needed for the Schenley, McKelvy/Miller, Vann, Woolslair and Connelly facilities (once these reports have been received by PPS)." (The deJong/Kimball team conducted the facilities study).

Also enclosed is an example of a document showing that at least since 1998 it has been industry practice to retest suspected ACM using the point count method when initial tests showed asbestos less than 10%, due to findings that labs were greatly overstating asbestos levels on initial tests. For some reason retesting was not done until AFTER the vote to close the building.

Can you understand how something like this affects public trust and confidence in the school district?

If PPS continues on a path toward disposing of this public treasure, I think it is very important to have a full investigation and accountability by those responsible for the failure to conduct adequate tests prior to the vote to close, the failure to disclose results when new tests were finally done, and the resulting waste of public funds and loss of this building.

City Paper Article:

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