That would be the amount necessary to adequately and safely repair Schenley High School, according to speakers at a news conference yesterday evening. The figure was alluded to by B-PEP chairman Tim Stevens, made explicit by researcher Kathy Fine, and supported by civil engineer Nick Lardis, all of the Save Schenley movement.
In addition, the cost of preparing other buildings to accommodate Schenley students came under intense scrutiny. The $11 million originally quoted to repair Reizenstein, for example, was "wildly underestimated" by the School District administration, say activists, raising the usual questions about the rest of the District's preliminary numbers.
The notion of a full-blown asbestos crisis was flatly rejected by activists. Airborne asbestos particle levels, which are measured every two weeks, have on every occasion measured lower than the legal limits to be adhered to even after asbestos remediation procedures; moreover, damage to plaster is not so widespread as reported, being limited to a few areas that were rapidly "patched" at some point years ago.
The group demanded that 1) the School Board vote no on permanently closing Schenley High School, that 2) the School District move to immediately create and present a workable, cohesive, comprehensive plan for high school reform, and that 3) a committee comprised of both citizens and School Board members be convened for the purposes of exploring all possible methods and revenue streams for preserving Schenley -- including the possibility of a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University.
That last "offhand" notion seemed to take on a bit more gravitas when Vivian Loftness of CMU's School of Architecture stepped forward to make her own presentation, centering around the superior long-term cost efficiency of investing in the Schenley building, as opposed to lesser buildings or new construction.