Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Heberle students to be at Porter

Return planned when lead gone

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Heberle Elementary School students will begin the school year at nearby Porter Elementary while their school is being treated for lead paint hazards, Cincinnati Public School officials said Monday.

About 500 students had to be transferred from Heberle to Porter Elementary in April after lead paint hazards were found at Heberle, a West End school.

Since then, parents have been waiting to find out where their children will attend school this year.

The Ohio Department of Health last week accepted the district's lead hazard remediation plan for Heberle.

The work, scheduled to begin next week, includes installing replacement windows on the first floor of the building where preschool through first grade students will be housed, as well as vacuuming, cleaning, painting and resealing windows, floors and other areas.

Random samples then will be taken from floors and windows and sent to a laboratory for lead analysis. Once the school meets clearance levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency, students and staff will be able to return.

The work and window installation will not be complete before school starts Aug. 21, meaning students will start the year at Porter.

"We estimate the work will be completed by November," said district spokeswoman Janet Walsh.

Heberle parent Carlean Chalk, a West End resident, said parents don't like the idea of moving back to Heberle after starting the year at Porter. "We want our kids to stay in one spot," she said. The move will disrupt teachers and students, she said.

Walsh said the district expects to have a letter to parents in the mail today as well as posters at the school outlining updates.

"I can truly understand parents' concerns and we have been working to do a better job of communicating with parents as quickly as we find out things," Superintendent Alton Frailey said.

Frailey also intends to meet with parents Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. in the Porter library.

Twenty-two other schools are also receiving preventive cleaning for possible lead paint hazards. That work is expected to be complete before the start of school, Walsh said.

Costs for the cleaning at the 22 schools and abatement at Heberle was estimated at more than $5 million, but Walsh said the actual costs have not been determined.


E-mail jmrozowski@enquirer.com

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