The work is far from over, but bills for PCB testing and cleanup at Osborn Hill School are already "north of $300,000" and the expenditures change weekly, according to Superintendent of Schools David Title.
Title and Board of Education Chairman Pam Iacono were at the finance board meeting Tuesday to give an update on costs associated with remediating elevated PCB levels at the elementary school. Title said that cost estimate does not include an anticipated $120,000 for a temporary gym. The school's gym needs the most work to get rid of PCBs detected last spring and school officials don't expect it to be used at all during this academic year.
PCBs are toxins considered by health officials to be potential carcinogens.
Testing and monitoring is continuing Stillson Road school and the district must develop a remediation plan that satisfies the EPA. When classes began last week with the start of the new school year, high levels of PCBs also prevented two kindergarten classrooms from being used. The elevated levels were first discovered when window caulking was tested in preparation for a window replacement project. Contamination was later detected in fireproofing materials.
The Representative Town Meeting cut $850,000 from the contingency account during budget deliberations last spring, leaving about $250,000. To restore money to the account, First Selectman Michael Tetreau has instituted cost-saving measures, which had been planned to cover costs in anticipated settlements of contracts from town employee unions. It is also expected that certain payouts reached under a settlement agreement with departing Fiscal Office Paul Hiller for his unused vacation time and 13 weeks of severance pay will need to come out of that account.
For now, Title said money for the Osborn Hill cleanup is coming from school system Director of Operations Thomas Cullen's budget.
"We're going to do everything we can to postpone some spending we have in the pipeline," Title said. "I don't think we're at the end here" of the PCB cleanup costs.
Iacono said with a sum as large as has been spent to date, "it's highly likely that we'll be back asking for a special appropriation."
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