Officials: Students safe during renovation

LEWISTOWN – Let’s clear the air – school officials are steadfast in stating that students and faculty have not been exposed to asbestos or other materials from an ongoing renovation project at the Mifflin County Junior High School.

Assistant Principal Mark Conner said there is asbestos abatement work taking place, however it is not being done while students are in the building.

Superintendent James Estep said the project, which among other things consists of retrofitting the former auditorium in to administration offices, a band room, chorus area and computer labs remains ongoing.

Estep said blocking off and sealing the auditorium and portions of the kitchen has been relatively easy because of their location within the school. Due to the kitchen work, hot food is being brought in from the Mifflin County High School.

“The larger, messier portions (of the project) will be in the summer of 2014 and 2015 … the object is to do the less invasive stuff during the school year,” Estep said.

Estep said JMSI Environmental has been monitoring the air quality in the school and everything is in good shape, with no issues to report.

Estep said the whole work area is sealed off.

“The bottom line is, no asbestos abatement is going on while students are in the building,” he added.

Estep also addressed reports of gas fumes in the area of the school. He said the fumes were unrelated to the renovation project, but involved school maintenance personnel who accidentally ruptured a gas line recently while working next to a flagpole.

Estep said he is monitoring the issue with the gas line.

The Mifflin County School Board of Directors approved the $16 million renovation project in November 2013.