Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt, backed by engineering and architectural professionals, said today that the asbestos problem at Schenley High School in Oakland is "pervasive" and that action must be taken by fall.
Mr. Roosevelt is making public the information he used to recommend that the popular high school be closed at the end of this school year. Hundreds have protested the move.
At a press conference today, Mr. Roosevelt was joined by officials of Astorino, a design firm; L. Robert Kimball & Associates, an engineering company; and AGX Inc., an air quality testing firm.
There have been at least seven estimates of how much it would cost to repair Schenley. The one Mr. Roosevelt typically cites is for $64.4 million, made by Astorino last year. At that time, Astorino also estimated $37.8 million for partial restoration, without air conditioning. That was the lowest of the estimates.
Two Kimball officials -- Thomas Blank, vice president and operations manager for the civil and environmental division, and Ryan Pierce, vice president of K-12 architecture -- today said the $37.8 million estimate was made before plaster began falling away. The low estimate included encapsulating the asbestos, which is cheaper than removal. However, encapsulation is not possible when the plaster is falling down.
The highest estimate was $86.9 million, made by Kimball in 2005.
Mr. Roosevelt said that he will provide copies of the documents to leaders of the Save Schenley movement. Chief of staff Lisa Fischetti said that as much as possible would be posted on the district's Web site for the public to see.
Mr. Roosevelt has proposed dividing the Schenley students among three schools: the neighborhood students would go to a new school serving grades 6 through 12 in the now-closed Milliones building; the international studies students would go to a new 6-12 school in the now-closed Reizenstein building; and the robotics students would go to Peabody High School. As a compromise, he recently proposed that all current Schenley students be allowed to stay together at Reizenstein, thus phasing in the plan.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.