Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Schenley not so asbestos plagued after all

From the City Paper:

- The article explains that the Schenley plaster has apparently only a quarter to a half percent asbestos- far below the 1% threshhold that makes it subject to applicable asbestos regulations. And that even before the building was closed these low numbers had been coming up in samples and PPS officials were aware of that fact.


Questioner said...

And, despite the 2009 test showing trace levels of asbestos, PPS apparently said nothing to correct misinformation such as that in this CP article from last year, which referred to the building as "asbestos plagued."

- Remember last fall there was a big push to sell the building to PMC. Sure the prospective buyer had been told of the new asbestos results and would therefore have been able to make its purchase based on "inside information."

Questioner said...

Beautiful picture of Schenley in the article, showing the large windows providing abundant natural light. Compare that to a picture of the Peabody building, where many students who would have been at Schenley are scheduled to attend school:

Anonymous said...

What a travesty and an utter slap in the face of those who were working to prevent the closing from a position of honesty and integrity. A comment by a board member in the article reeks of insincerity.

Anonymous said...

Please voice your opinion to prevent the sale of the building and allow Schenley to house a PPS at a point in time when the school board understands its real value. Here is a testimony that was read at the board hearing just 2 days ago:

A Case for Schenley High School, Revisited
Picture this- walking up the steps of a school and entering a light filled hallway with ceilings that reach to the sky. Stepping into a classroom, natural light continues to stream into the space occupied by those who have come here to learn. Perhaps, yes perhaps, the world that this student has left behind will somehow be transformed by being in this wonderful space.
Yes, buildings matter. When Schenley High School was built, it was built to inspire, as were other public buildings and public parks. They were places to breathe, to come together, to experience something different than the stress and squalor that may have been a part of everyday life.
The student body of the Pittsburgh Public Schools is once again becoming racially and economically segregated. So are many of the neighborhoods where the students live. Only those who have the savvy to maneuver through the ever changing configuration of school assignments or school theme of the year, may be able to be exposed to students and people different from themselves - and learn side by side about people and places that they never would have imagined. And many who have the financial where-with-all may just choose to go to a private school- I know, I work in one.
I never thought that I would be sitting in this chair again, pleading the case for Schenley High School. Returning from walking through streets and streets of amazing buildings in cities in Scandinavia, where my daughter, a Schenley graduate, was completing a research fellowship, I found myself once again despairing over the thought of losing one of Pittsburgh Public School’s most valuable and stately buildings.
All of the sudden, soaring estimates and threats of health hazards have come crashing down- not the plaster in the building. Agendas come and agendas go. Lives continue to be disrupted.
We may not have the dollars at this moment in time, which is considerably less than the public and you, the board, had been led- or misled- to believe, to reopen Schenley as a school. But remember: once the building is gone, it’s gone.
This board can make a bold statement. It can stop the travesty that has surrounded this building and keep it as a centerpiece of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Pittsburgh doesn’t need another noble building that has been converted to condominiums. That is not inspiring in the least. Pittsburgh needs our students to be inspired in as many ways as possible, which Schenley High School has done for close to 100 years.

Annette Werner said...

My public hearing testimony from July 23:

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.

Anonymous said...

To be truthful, the handling of Schenley was horrible but it should be but a small piece of an overall investigation about a corrupt school board and central administration, and not the major focal point.
Since Mark Roosevelt, PPS has failed its students and their families. And yet, it has managed to continually pull a public relations coup with an all too complicit Pittsburgh media.
All of these people, from administration to almost all school board members, should be investigated and then fired.

Anonymous said...

Lies and deceptions is all you get from the these so called education reforms. Smoke & Mirrors what ever, get rid of the Broad/Gates influence now, its almost to late.

Danny Green

Anonymous said...

yes i think that the Pa. State Dept. of Education should investigate do to possible criminal activities and who may also violated the law in which they did not look out for the best interest of PPS who pays school taxes it sounds like to BIG to Fail