The Arlington School Board voted last night to spend nearly $1 million over the next five years to remove or encase all asbestos in 33 school and administration buildings.
Under the plan designed by Director of Facilities and Operations Thomas Weber, removal will concentrate first on classrooms and other areas where students and teachers work. In later years, asbestos will be removed from boiler and storage rooms.
The board voted 4 to 0 to budget $200,000 each year from now until June 1990 for the removal. Board member Margaret A. Bocek was absent.
Asbestos, once commonly used as insulation in heating systems, when exposed and crumbling can release tiny fibers that have been shown to cause cancer and respiratory diseases in those who inhale them.
The Arlington removal plan was originally designed in response to the concerns of parents and teachers who complained last fall that school officials were not acting swiftly enough to remove asbestos hazards.
Arlington schools were cited by the Environmental Protection Agency in September for failing to post notices indicating the presence of asbestos in Jamestown Elementary School and Wakefield High School and for failure to keep adequate records on asbestos in Thomas Jefferson Intermediate School and the administration building.
Marjorie McCreery, executive director of the Arlington Education Association, last night praised the plan for concentrating first on removal of asbestos in places where students and teachers work. But she urged that employes who work in areas containing asbestos receive training in how to recognize and handle the substance.
Weber said principals and building managers will keep an eye on areas containing asbestos and make monthly reports to him.