Sunday, June 21, 2009

Three Updates

The first week of summer was anything but low-key. Sixteen truckloads of pencils, paper, desks, and chairs made their way to Smith Elementary School. I'd like to give a great big "Thank You!" to all those who came to help! The school is now absolutely empty, save for materials staged in our gym for the year. The photo is of the gym at Smith, loaded for next year. I hope it gives some sense of the scale. Along the way we were able to recycle an entire construction container of material, as well as donate a great deal of school supplies left behind by children to a worthy cause.

Let me share three related updates with you.

First, my apologies for not posting class lists on Friday. They will be posted on Monday around noon on a bulletin board, street-side rather than on the front doors as is usual. The reason for waiting until Monday is that we have a change in personnel to announce -- this is the second update. The reason we'll not be posting on the front doors has to do with the abatement process, which also begins on Monday; abatement details are the third piece of news.

At a special session of the School Board, Superintendent Hoagland proposed that we post the 4th grade position recently vacated by Mira Peterson. This is a reversal of the original recommendation made by the budget committee, which was prudently based on to-date financial considerations and enrollment. Recently, with increased interest in the Grade School, we recommended that we add back the position; the Board unanimously agreed! I will update soon, in my next newsletter, about the process we will undertake to fill that position.

The central purpose for Saturday's special session was to discuss the Conditional Use hearing of the 15th and its implications for the ongoing Grade School process. In short, the plan is to move forward. We are prepared for abatement to begin on Monday the 22nd, on schedule. There are strict DEQ requirements around the abatement process and the district has contracted a specialty firm to undertake it. The first phase, which begins Monday, is concerned with the removal of asbestos glue underneath layers of carpet below the carpet you see now in the main building. The site will be totally contained and will be absolutely safe for neighbors. Those familiar with the abatement process may know that there is often a smell associated with the chemicals used in removal, but that they are approved treatment chemicals and the odor, if it exists, poses no danger to the passerby. In our case, the abatement contractor will not be using these chemicals, in any case. You will not see the entire campus fenced until such time as is necessary from a safety standpoint. That is to say, the building will be totally inaccessible, but the rest of the campus will not.

Nonetheless, we urge folks to discourage children from playing on the basketball hoops or playground for the time being
. In a similar vein, we will post the class lists away from the doors.

I'd like to reiterate that the abatement process being undertaken at the Grade School is extremely minor relative to many other projects concerning buildings of a similar age, and that we consider the precautions being taken to be on the conservative side, knowing that it is a place for children and that we wish to be the best neighbors we can be.

I will continue to update with details as they make themselves apparent, on all of these fronts. Please don't hesitate to call with any questions. For the summer, Betsy and I are set up at Riverdale High School. Beginning Tuesday, our phone number should ring there, and mail will be forwarded.

As always, my best.