FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield has already paid about $300,000 for environmental cleanup at Osborn Hill School but the final cost for removing potentially hazardous chemicals is still climbing, Superintendent David Title said Tuesday.
“The number just keeps going up,” Title told the Board of Finance Tuesday night. “We don’t know when it’s going to end.”
Environmental testers found polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in some areas of Osborn Hill in preconstruction tests at the school earlier this summer. The district cleaned up enough sections of the school to reopen for the start of the term last Thursday.
If Osborn Hill had not opened on time, the backup plan would have been to rent Holy Family School from the Diocese of Bridgeport.
The gymnasium, where the highest concentrations of the chemicals were found, could be closed for the entire school year. Students will have physical education classes in a temporary covered space behind the school until Title’s team decides whether to rent a portable gymnasium or erect a tent. Either option could cost between $100,000 and $120,000 for the year, Title said.
The school district needs to conduct more environmental testing on the gym and other areas. And the final cost to clean up the gymnasium once those tests are done is still unknown.
The PCBs were first discovered when the town began required testing for a $790,000 window replacement project. That project still needs to be done, since some of the higher levels of PCBs were found in window caulk.
“The longer-term plan would include the cost of remediating the gym, plus the cost of replacing the windows,” Title said. “Those would be the two biggest pieces.”
The Board of Education will bring a request for extra money to the Board of Finance and other town boards later this fall, when the costs are more definite.