Emerson Alternative High School is one of the last buildings to be remodeled as part of the Oklahoma City schools districtwide MAPS for Kids renovation.
Advocates hoped that renovation plan would include a new health clinic to replace the one that closed two years ago. But the $4.4 million renovation won't include a new clinic.
The reason: the clinic isn't open right now, said Eric Wenger, program manager for the MAPS Trust.
“They don't currently have a clinic,” Wenger said. “That's the primary reason that the space isn't currently included as a current MAPS project.”
Emerson Alternative High School is the oldest building in the Oklahoma City School District.
Built in 1894, Emerson is the only school still in use dating from the 1800s.
A fire leveled the structure in the early 1900s, and it was rebuilt in 1907.
The school is home to two programs — one for pregnant and parenting girls and another for troubled teens.
MAPS for Kids is a sales tax program that generated $700 million to renovate more than 100 schools in the Oklahoma City area.
The improved Emerson is expected to open in late 2012 or early 2013.
The old health clinic and other decaying outbuildings will be trashed.
There are a couple of spots on campus that could serve as a clinic, but the cost is too high, Wenger said. The best option is the deserted boiler room downstairs. But the walls are stuffed with asbestos and the room is stuffed with ancient, hulking machines. School officials walled it off.
Cleaning up asbestos is expensive, and the asbestos in Emerson isn't dangerous to students right now, Wenger said.
It's in a stable, protected state. The dangerous chemicals aren't breaking apart and spreading to the air.
Advocates say the asbestos should be removed regardless of the boiler room's use.
“You ought to be getting rid of the asbestos anyway because it's the right thing to do when you have all these young lives in your hands,” said Dr. Lauranne Harris, an obstetrician who has volunteered at Emerson for years.