Clark School to remain closed the rest of the year due to PCB contamination

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HARTFORD - Kids who attend Clark Elementary & Middle school in Hartford won't be returning to their school for the rest of the year.

Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, superintendent of Hartford schools announced Thursday evening that the school will remain closed, likely until the middle of the next academic year, due to a PCB contamination.

PCBs are industrial chemicals considered by the Environmental Protection Agency  to be potential carcinogens.

Recent tests found the toxins in caulk, fireproofing spray and paint, according to Schiavino-Narvaez. She said there is no "smoking gun" as to the source of the PCB's in the air, so more testing needs to be done.

Consultants with Eagle Environmental Inc. continue to assess the situation and are working on a remediation plan. They haven't nailed down an estimate for the work that needs to be done at Clark Elementary but told FOX CT that PCB projects at other schools have ranged from $25,000 to three million dollars.

Schiavino-Narvaez said closing down Clark Elementary for good is probably not going to happen. Instead, students will continue to attend classes at other Hartford schools until Clark reopens.

Parents weren't happy to hear that won't be anytime soon.

"It's crazy because we thought it was going to be a couple months, maybe to the summer," said Aracelis Sierra, mother of a 6 and 9-year-old.

Fifth grader Terrence Owens is bummed.

"It's sad," he said. "I don't like the school I'm going to right now. I want to go back to my old school."

Owens said he doesn't like the current curriculum.

"We stay in one room and do nothing," he said.

His mother, Mille Soto, said Terrence misses going to gym and to art.

"I'm happy their closing the school, but I'm upset the way they're doing it," she said.

Sierra said her daughter told her the same thing.

"They don't get no activities.  They're stuck there all day in one room," she said.

Schiavino-Narvaez said school leaders are aware of the situation and working on it.

"We can handle it through scheduling different lunch periods and we're looking at different space options for the specialists," she said. "We thought this would be short term, you know? We keep pushing the contractors, but they've advised us, take your time, do it right."

The PCBs were discovered in December, when crews were installing a new sprinkler system at Clark, and air samples tested positive for PCBs, which is commonly found in buildings constructed in the 70s.

Mayor Pedro Segarra issued the following statement in response:

 “From quickly closing the school and relocating students, to retaining a firm to investigate the source of the contaminants, Superintendent Schiavino-Narvaez has made proactive and speedy decisions that have ensured the safety and continued education of Clark School students. As the children complete the school year at their ‘new’ schools, we are working to make sure they are fully integrated in their new environment.  Our student’s health and educational well-being is the only priority. I want to thank the young students and their families for their patience and cooperation as we work towards a long-term solution. “

Related Links:

What should happen to the PCB contaminated Hartford elementary school?

Clark Elementary & Middle School closed after chemicals found in air