Early Dismissal on 5-12-2017

May 11, 2017

Dear Saranac Lake Families,

In preparation for capital project work at Petrova Middle-Elementary School, Gheen Environmental Services conducted a routine environmental inspection of the building and discovered the presence of vermiculite above the third floor and auditorium ceilings as well as in scattered rooms. Ceilings and rooms on the first and second floors did not contain vermiculite and therefore have been deemed safe for occupancy according to the testing results. No vermiculite was found at the High School or Bloomingdale Elementary.

While the mineral vermiculite itself is not dangerous, it is mined from the same ground where asbestos is also mined.  Since there is not a test to determine if the vermiculite contains asbestos, all vermiculite is assumed to be asbestos containing.  As a result, we are following an abatement plan and closing the third floor (middle school portion) of Petrova until cleanup is completed.   

The health and safety of our students, staff and community is our first priority. The District is moving with all deliberate speed to remedy this situation safely and in accordance with state law.  The Board of Education is meeting Friday morning to declare the remediation of the vermiculite to be an emergency project.  It is our intent to begin this work immediately upon receiving approvals and to have the third floor safe and clean by the start of the 2017-18 school year.  

In order to finalize this plan, the district will initiate an early dismissal tomorrow.  Middle and High school students will dismiss at 9:30 am and elementary will dismiss at 10:30 am.  All afterschool activities will continue as planned. We understand the logistical problems this short notice causes and apologize for this initial inconvenience. We are working to create a plan that causes as little disruption to families as possible for the remainder of the school year.

On Monday, Middle School students and staff will be relocated to the first floor of the Petrova building and the fourth- and fifth-graders currently at Petrova will be moved to Bloomingdale Elementary.  Students will ride their regular bus to and from school.

We are aware that this information will raise concerns for many in our community. Please be assured that the district will do everything in its power to make this transition as smooth as possible for all involved, in addition to maintaining our focus on health and safety.  Additional information is available on our district website, www.slcs.org. You are also encouraged to contact the district office (891-5460) or your child’s school office with any questions.