GUILFORD -- Officials have known for a long time that there is asbestos in Guilford Central School.
But now, following an assessment, school administrators are beginning a discussion about how to deal with the potentially hazardous construction material and how much such solutions might cost.
No quick decisions are expected, Principal John Gagnon said. And in the meantime, he’s seeking to reassure parents that the School Road building poses no risks to students.
"The board is being diligent and taking their commitment seriously and moving in a responsible fashion," Gagnon said. "The school is safe."
In an Aug. 17 letter to parents, Gagnon said the asbestos issue is nothing new at the school, which houses students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
"It has been in the building for many years and is located in some of the pipe wrapping as well as ceiling tiles in the intermediate/middle school hallway and the middle school classrooms," he wrote.
"We follow an EPA-approved and monitored regimen to make sure the asbestos does not pose a threat to students and staff," Gagnon’s letter said. "Inspections are done on a regular basis, and we are following all of the precautions required."
That does not mean, however, that school officials are content with leaving the material in place for the long term. Gagnon said a recent assessment by a contractor "verified" the presence and quantity of
"The next step is determining, what are we going to do," Gagnon said.
School board members are expected to discuss the matter at their next regular meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday. But deliberations will take time.
Gagnon said that, at this year’s Town Meeting, "the current school board committed itself to exploring the issues and costs associated with removing the asbestos." It likely will take until the next Town Meeting to produce a full report.
"We’ll be getting the information and looking at it and ultimately bringing it to the town this coming March," Gagnon said.
He added that the EPA monitors asbestos not only in the Guilford school but also in other Windham Southeast Supervisory Union buildings. Paraphrasing an agency representative, Gagnon said he’s been advised that there is no immediate need to remove the material.
"If it’s in good shape, leave it alone," Gagnon said.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.