School sewer problems yield hefty repair bill

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Sewer line repairs at a Clovis school will exceed projected costs due to asbestos near the line that must be removed, Clovis Schools officials announced Tuesday at a school board meeting.

No health risk is posed by the asbestos, most of which has already been removed, Clovis Schools Director of Operations Gene Bieker said.

The fiber, which can be dangerous in high quantities, lies inside tile at Gattis Junior High School, which was disturbed during sewer line repairs.

Fixing the collapsed main sewer line at Gattis will cost approximately $109,400, according to school officials.

Bieker said Tuesday the cost increase “happened because of unforeseen problems.” Another unforeseen expense is the addition of a larger grease trap to the line, he said.

Grease traps capture grease from kitchen operations and prevent clogged sewer lines. The grease trap at Gattis must be expanded from 300 to 1,500 gallons, Bieker said.

Combined, the grease trap and asbestos abatement will add roughly $49,000 more to sewer line repair bill than school officials originally projected when it collapsed in October.

Line repairs, including the replacement of the floor that surrounds the line, will be done during the Christmas hiatus from school, which lasts from Dec. 21 to Jan. 9, Bieker said.

There are no immediate symptoms of asbestos inhalation, and the fibers are too small to be seen, but asbestos can cause lung, chest, and abdominal cancer and irreversible lung scarring.

A complete overhaul of the line will be done over the summer, according to officials.
At Tuesday’s meeting, school board members also:

—Heard from a Marshall Junior High School student who read an essay she had written on courage. Seidenwurm announced plans to feature a school or student monthly at school board meetings. She said school board members do not hear about school life frequently enough during meetings.

—Heard an update from Lt. Col. John McLaurin on Cannon Air Force Base. McLaurin serves a liaison between the base and Clovis schools and regularly reports at meetings. He said approximately 650 Cannon personnel are deployed around the world, and asked school officials to remember the holidays are a particularly hard time for families of the deployed in Clovis Schools.

—Heard about legislative issues in education from Seidenwurm. Seidenwurm said Clovis congressional representatives are unlikely to fund projects in which costs are reoccurring. She said educational associations are lobbying for 50 percent of new monies in 2007 to go to schools. Top capital outlay wishes in the district, she said, are the construction of a fine arts center at the Arts Academy at Bella Vista and/or fencing on Clovis schools campuses.

She also said educational associations are lobbying to get the judicial system more involved in truancy issues at schools. She said they want parents to be held criminally liable for not sending their children to school.

—Approved the purchase of two heating and air conditioning units to the Marshall Junior High School auditorium stage. The units will cost $26,448. Currently, no units control the temperature on the stage, according to Bieker.

—Approved the purchase of security cameras for La Casita Elementary and Cameo Elementary Schools. The cost of the cameras will be split by the Department of Justice and Clovis Schools. A grant from the department will cover $50,128 of the project and $50,129 will be provided through bond money previously allocated to Clovis Schools, according to a document.

—Heard from Seidenwurm that at the Jan. 9 school board meeting school officials will present specific recommendations of the junior high school re-design proposal, including which junior high officials recommend be turned into a ninth-grade academy.