Miami Trace Business Manager Bill Franke recently discussed the ongoing demolition work at the old high school.
According to Franke, when the old Miami Trace High School was built in the 1960s, one of the materials used as an insulation for the building is a hydrous mineral called vermiculite. Franke explained during the board of education meeting on Tuesday that the construction crews, which have been working on the demolition, recently started tearing down the old gym walls and discovered an issue they were not prepared for: an over-abundance of vermiculite.
“The crews are moving along, obviously not as quick as what we would like, but right now they are trying to focus on the stadium,” Franke said. “Everything east of the gymnasium wall — so to speak — they are trying to get it all out of the way so they can begin preparations for the new stands.”
Vermiculite itself its not a particularly hazardous material as it was used frequently during the 1960s and even today, but what makes vermiculite potentially dangerous is some of the mineral could contain asbestos fibres due to the place it was mined at also containing veins of asbestos. This leads to specialized care being necessary to not only remove it from the wall, but also to dispose of the waste. The issue peaked though when it was discovered that the demolition company wildly underestimated the amount of vermiculite within the walls.
“I got a video on Friday of folks up at the top of the football stadium, the top walk, where they knocked holes in the brick up there and the vermiculite was literally pouring out of the wall,” Franke said. “It looked like cement or cake batter pouring out of the wall. So they are collecting that and disposing of it in the proper manner, but this is ongoing and we will stay on top of it.”
Due to this issue, Franke on Tuesday asked the board for approval of up to $250,000 (state share is $77,000) to help pay for the disposal of the vermiculite as the demolition continues. This money — which was approved by the board via local and state share interest money — will be necessary to pay for the additional time and waste disposal on the site. The board did express to Franke and the other administrative staff on hand that allowing the use of the money did not excuse the demolition company from its mistakes at underestimating the situation, to which they agreed.
Franke said the portion of the school that will be demolished to make way for the new seating and stadium will be finished first so that construction on the new amenities will be finished by the first football games in the fall.
A new Miami Trace High School was recently constructed and the students moved into the facility earlier this year.
Also during the meeting Tuesday, various principals and other administrative staff shared their reports before the board:
MT Elementary Principal Ryan Davis talked about recent field days, water safety and other fun activities for the kids as they prepared for summer. He also thanked those who helped with the fifth grade graduation, and said they are currently reviewing the handbook for next year.
Middle school principal Jason Binegar discussed recent suicide and safety screenings to help identify kids who could use some help. He also talked about upcoming test scores and revamping character education for the next school year. He thanked those involved in the eighth grade recognition ceremony and getting fifth grade students into the school to look around before next year.
Rob Enochs — principal at the high school — thanked everyone for attending the Class of 2019 graduation, for helping to live stream and for making it a great experience for the seniors. He said that every kid in the class graduated via one of several support systems in place, and that he was incredibly proud of all of the help the students received.
Technology instructional director Amy Gustin said that every senior who graduated from the school returned laptops and other technology before the end of the year. She also said some of the laptops from the high school will need to be replaced as kids who moved away during the year did not return their technology to the school, and some screens were cracked, but overall it went very well and they are preparing for next year.
Food service director Gary Campbell explained changes and improvements made this year and listed some accomplishments he is proud of. The first is that all of the menus have been updated with the food available, nutrition facts and more. He also explained that students have been eating better, have been wasting less and have been eating more school food, including an increase in high school lunch sales and breakfast at the middle school.
Assistant superintendent Kim Pittser talked about open enrollment numbers. She said she expects the numbers for next school year to be similar to the numbers from the previous school year. She also discussed a few dates the district is keeping in mind, including new employee orientation, open houses and test result dates.
Finally, superintendent David Lewis briefly thanked everyone for attending and talked about a threat assessment plan that the school will be implementing next year. He told everyone to enjoy their time off this summer and he is excited for another great school year.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.