District: PCBs Found in Saxe Middle School Auditorium


Officials have found PCBs in some of the paint at the Saxe Middle School auditorium, an area of the school that will be closed as a precautionary measure, according to an email sent Tuesday by the district to parents and staff.

The contaminants in the auditorium, which is to undergo a renovation that would be completed by the summer of 2016, were discovered by environmental engineering and consultants while planning for the project, according to a letter sent by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi.

Tighe & Bond in its studying “sampled building materials for lead, asbestos and PCBs.”

“Testing indicated the presence of PCBs in some of the paint systems in the auditorium,” the letter said. “As a precautionary measure, access to the Saxe Auditorium is being restricted at this time until additional testing can be performed over the holiday break. Appropriate health and safety protocols have been and will be followed during all testing activities.”

The 7th-8th grade chorus concert was to be held in the Saxe auditorium Tuesday night, according to the district’s website. Reached by NewCanaanite.com, Luizzi said that concert now will be held at the high school, “which is a good move because the Saxe auditorium did not come close to meeting capacity for parents and student who went to the 5th-6th grade concert last week.”

As part of the school’s due diligence, officials will look to see whether the same paint found to contain PCBs is found elsewhere in the building “and if so, test that as well.”

“We are operating with an abundance of caution here,” Luizzi said. “We need to take more tests in order to get more conclusive results, and understand the scope of what is going on in the auditorium. Right now, we are restricting access and then when we have the results of more tests we take from the holiday break, we will know more whether we need to remain offline for a while or open it back up.”

Luizzi said that if the Saxe auditorium needs to be closed for an extended period of time, “we will look to relocate all programs.”

He emphasized that the district is going to gather up information and then make decisions “one step at a time.”

“We have environmental consultants and we will follow their scientific methods,” he said.

The group of town officials overseeing the renovation, the Saxe Auditorium Building Committee, is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday at the school.

The town approved $175,000 for project designs in the current fiscal year to renovate the Saxe auditorium—part of the original 1957 building, it received a “poor” rating in an August 2013 facilities survey.

The superintendent in his letter said that a meeting with parents and staff will be scheduled in January to present findings “once all testing results are received.”

“After testing is complete, NCPS will work with Tighe & Bond to develop an appropriate removal plan for the paint systems as part of the Auditorium renovation project.”

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