Addressing the school mold problem

Officials spent the winter break removing toxic mold from selected walls of Bordewich-Bray Elementary School, but chances are more lurks inside the hidden darkness of other walls of the modular classrooms.

"We decided we're not going to test any more walls," said Mike Mitchell, Carson City School District's director of operations. "The air quality is good in the rooms, but my suspicion is that all the exterior walls (in the portable classrooms) have mold in them."

Mitchell will update the school board on the removal of the mold and possible solutions to the problem during Tuesday's meeting.

"We have an appreciation of what the problem is," he said. "Now our decision has to be how to fix it all."

Mitchell said the solutions could range from repairing the existing modulars, to replacing them with new ones to eliminating the portable classrooms and building an addition to the school.

"We'll be meeting this week to talk about various solutions and finance options," he said. "Anything is possible if you want to put the money into it but I wouldn't want to put an inordinate amount of money into the existing modulars."

Mitchell hopes to start work on the solution this summer.

Three forms of toxic mold were discovered in November within eight to 10 walls of modular classrooms on the school's campus. The five portable classrooms -- making up 14,000 square feet -- were made permanent but no foundation was laid first, which allows ground water to seep into the wooden walls and floor. Water also leaks through the flat roofs.

However, the air within the classrooms tested clean.

"It's not unsafe for now," Mitchell explained. "But if we ever need electrical or telephone work done, it would get very expensive."

He said it would also pose a threat if the walls were damaged or broken in any way.

Mold is measured by the amount of spores per cubic meter -- with 2,000 spores per cubic meter considered dangerous. Within the classrooms, 80 spores per cubic meter were detected and outside, 111 were detected.

Within the walls, up to 148,000 spores per meter were discovered.

Crews from First General Services of Northern Nevada opened the walls and removed the mold over the past two weeks. Classrooms were expected to be ready for students to return to school today.

The three types of mold detected were Cladosporium, Penicillium-Aspergillus and Stachybotrys.

The mold has been known to cause symptoms ranging from coughing and watery eyes to diarrhea and short-term memory loss.

However, Principal Sue Keema said no symptoms have been reported at the school.

The school board will also elect new officers at Tuesday's meeting.

If you go:

What: Carson City School Board meeting

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Carson City Community Center, Sierra Room


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