NORTH JACKSON Asbestos found at school will add to repair costs

School officials fear the cost of the repairs may put them back into fiscal emergency.
NORTH JACKSON -- Asbestos found this week at Jackson-Milton High School will add to the cost of fixing the school's exterior walls, says Superintendent Warne Palmer.
"Obviously, the cost quadruples," he said.
Palmer said contractors found the asbestos in ceiling plaster while testing the brick on the exterior walls. Last week, school officials discovered that some of the bricks look as if they're being pushed out from the inside.
Asbestos is a fiber that can be used as insulation. If fibers are inhaled, it also can cause several types of cancer.
Palmer said contractors have to take extra steps to ensure their safety when working on the building. Those extra steps will add to the cost of work.
Contractors have not determined the cost of the repairs. However, school officials are worried that the cost of the repairs may add to the financial woes of the district, which has been in fiscal emergency for the past three years. Palmer was planning to call the state auditor to discuss ending the fiscal emergency until he learned about the bricks.
Funding: The school has an annual general fund budget of $8 million. About $1 million of that comes from a 9.9-mill emergency levy that took effect in 1998. The levy is set to expire at the end of 2002. Palmer has said the district will consider putting a bond issue on the ballot this November to pay for the repairs.
Contractors are planning to drill holes in the school walls during the next few days as part of their effort to find out what is pushing on the bricks. The holes are needed to determine what type of materials were used to construct the building, because any original construction drawings have disappeared.
Palmer said that the high school was constructed in 1913 and is exempt from state regulations requiring the removal of asbestos. He also said that due to the asbestos, contractors will be doing most of their work from outside the school.
The contractors are expected to have the results of their tests on the building next week. The test results will be used to determine the cost of the repairs.

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