Library, music rooms also closed for lead testing at CR Anderson

2014-01-20T06:00:00Z 2014-01-29T00:18:09Z Library, music rooms also closed for lead testing at CR AndersonBy Derek Brouwer Helena Independent Record
January 20, 2014 6:00 am  • 

Three more classrooms at C.R. Anderson, including the library, will not be in use when the middle school reopens on Tuesday.

School officials decided Sunday to close band and chorus rooms as well as the library so further tests could be conducted to ensure no lead particulates are present.

Officials said last week that the school’s small basement would be the only area still sealed when classes resume while a clean-up crew clears it for use. Several rounds of testing have indicated that the presence of lead dust that prompted the school closure is confined to basement in hard-to-reach areas.

However, environmental consultants hired by the district and maintenance personnel now want to make sure that no lead has traveled from an air handling unit in the basement to several rooms on the school’s upper levels that the unit supplies.

The unit is a sealed system that gathers air from outside, Superintendent Kent Kultgen said, but officials want to confirm that lead contaminants haven’t entered the system through any holes in the ducts.

The rooms were not included in the schoolwide sampling that took place last week, Kultgen said, but air samples and surface wipes taken in adjacent hallways and classrooms did not find traces of lead.

Additionally, a mechanical engineer believes the air flow in the handling system isn’t strong enough to carry lead particles up several floors.

For those reasons, Kultgen said his team is almost certain lead won’t be found in the rooms. Regardless, he said conducting the tests is the “wise thing to do.”

“No matter how small the chance is, we’ve got to eliminate it for our students,” he said.

The additional closure complicates next week’s class schedule somewhat. Principal Bruce Campbell told parents last week that orchestra students would practice in the library while the basement is abated.

Now a few classes will be held in nearby churches. Campbell said Calvary Baptist Church, across the street from the school, will host band practices and Headwaters Covenant Church located one block to the east will host Mr. Helseth’s classes.

Campbell said both churches have been great neighbors to the school. Headwaters is designated as an evacuation site.

The total number of students enrolled in band, chorus, orchestra and other classes that have been temporarily relocated is around 800, Campbell said, though many of those are in more than one of the displaced classes.

Campbell said he’s hopeful the music rooms and library will be open by Thursday. The basement is set to remain closed for the entire week.

In an email to school board trustees, Kultgen wrote that the toxicologist the district is consulting on the testing, Dr. Michael Wernke, “is still confident the building is safe for the return of our staff and students on Tuesday.

“He supports the additional testing to eliminate all questions about the safety of the building,” Kultgen wrote.

Reporter Derek Brouwer can be reached at or 447-4081. Follow Derek on Twitter @IR_DerekBrouwer

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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