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Aberdeen school closing to deal with asbestos problem


Jason Browne



ABERDEEN -- Students at Aberdeen Middle School on West Commerce Street in Aberdeen will be redirected to alternate schools beginning next week while the district decides what to do about asbestos in the old building. 


Aberdeen schools Superintendent Chester Leigh says a routine inspection by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in January discovered the substance in the former Aberdeen High School. The DEQ did not order the building be closed or deem it unsafe, but the district plans to make some repairs to the school and the substance could become a hazard once disturbed, he said. 


"The district decided to reassign students in order to correct some concerns," said Leigh, who was principal at AMS for about a decade before being tapped as superintendent. "As an administration, we met and talked last week. The school board met (Monday) night and made the decision." 


Fourth graders from AMS will return to Belle Elementary on West Vine Street, which houses second and third grades; and fifth-graders from AMS will move to Prairie Elementary on Highway 382 in Prairie, which houses the sixth grade. 


A letter was sent home to parents Monday alerting them of the change. A second letter will be sent home with students Thursday with further details. Students who are bused to school will continue to ride their same buses. 


Leigh doesn''t know how long the repairs will take. 


"It could possibly be 30 days. It could be the remainder of this year," he said. 


Teresa Hulett, a special education teacher at AMS, believes the school is safe and parents aren''t overreacting to the situation. 


"It seems everybody''s good with it. Most parents of our students went to school here," she said. "Our kids are very healthy. You don''t notice any kids with lung irritations." 


She also predicts the 220 AMS students will adjust well to changing schools. 


"The fourth-graders are going back to the school where they''re from. They''re familiar with the routine. And the kids that are going up are going where they''re going next year," she said. 


Hulett, who has worked at AMS for two years, will also return to Belle, where she worked before moving to AMS. The only hitch she sees in the plans is how the school district will address the asbestos issue. 


"I don''t think they know yet (what they''re going to do)," she said. 


Asbestos, a fibrous material, was a common construction material when the AMS building was built in the early 1900s. 


When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, tiny fibers "become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause significant health problems," according to the EPA Web site. 


Major health problems related to asbestos exposure include asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Channel Foster commented at 2/19/2010 8:05:00 PM:

I'm supporting them 100% instead of being a jackass like some people and if there is anything i can do for the school or students i will


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