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The price tag for removing asbestos from schools in the Jordan District is among the 10 highest in the nation, according to the June issue of The American School Board Journal.

With the bill for asbestos removal becoming one of the largest construction-related expenditures in the nation's schools, tearing out the cancer-causing material isn't always the wisest solution, the journal says, and Jordan School officials agree.According to the Journal, removing the asbestos as soon and as safely as possible is the best solution, but contractors estimate it will cost the nation's school districts approximately $8.2 billion a year. The Journal estimates the cost of removal work in the Jordan School District would be $10 million.

District officials, however, said they believe removing the material would not be that expensive because most of the material is located in pipe tunnels and furnace rooms away from classrooms.

"The article in the Journal was talking about removing all asbestos in every one of our school buildings, but that's unlikely," said District Spokeswoman Patty Dahl. "I don't know how they came up with that price tag."

The district is exploring another cost-saving possibility: encapsulation, sealing up the asbestos within a protective coating with a fire-resistant latex that would be just as safe and less expensive.

Dahl said the district has already completed their most expensive asbestos removal project at Southland Elementary School, at a cost of $238,000. "Most of our asbestos doesn't have to be removed because it poses no health treats. There will still be asbestos projects, but they will never near the amount quoted in the Journal."

Of 100 school systems nationwide, Jordan ranked sixth in the amount of money needed to remove the dangerous material. (See chart)

Jordan was listed behind Oklahoma City with $65 million; New York City, $50 million; Columbus, Ohio, $25 million; and Oakland, Calif., $12.5 million.

Other school districts listed with less expensive asbestos-removal programs are Richardson, Texas, $6.3 million; DeKalb County, Ga., $5.6 million; Milwaukee, Wis., $5 million; Delano, Fla., $5 million.

The article reported that schools systems with the highest ratio of new schools to old include Gwinnett, Ga.; Jordan, Utah; Cumberland, Va.; Mt. Diablo, Calif.; Cobb County, Ga.; and Virginia Beach, Va.

The asbestos-removal figures were listed in an article entitled "The Nation's School Repair Bill," by Allan C. Ornstein, a professor of education, and Robert C. Cienkus, an associate professor of education at Loyola University of Chicago.

Despite differences in size and location, the top item on every school's must-repair list is roofs. Approximately 81.5 percent of the larger school systems and 83.3 percent of the smaller systems reported major roof work during the 1988-89 school year. Heating and air conditioning came next on the list, with 68.4 percent of the large systems and 69.4 percent of the small systems having that work performed. Asbestos ranked third: 65.8 percent of the large school systems and 61.1 percent of the small ones were working on removal during 1988-89, the report said.



Asbestos removal costs


School System Expenditure Cost Per Student

(in millions) (in dollars)

Oklahoma City $65.0 $1.688

New York City 50.0 52

Columbus, Ohio 25.0 384

Oakland, Calif. 12.3 325

Kansas City, Mo. 12.0 342

Jordan, Utah 10.0 160

Richardson, Texas 6.3 197

DeKalb County, Ga. 5.6 78

Milwaukee, Wis. 5.0 52

Delano, Fla. 5.0 114

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