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Carson school faces decision because of mold

Mary Pierczynski, Superintendent of schools

The mold issue that the Carson City School District is facing at the Bordewich/Bray Elementary School is an issue that is surfacing around Nevada with some state offices and classrooms in other school districts vacated because of toxic mold.

Most of the modular classrooms at Bordewich/Bray continue to be occupied because the recent indoor air quality tests show the air in those classrooms has remained safe. However, four rooms in the modulars are no longer being used following the remediation work completed during the Christmas break because elevated spore counts resulted when retesting was done in those areas. Those programs have been moved to other spaces on the campus. Although school officials have been able to provide a temporary solution to the problem, a permanent solution has to be decided upon by the school district board of trustees.

The board has some options. The first decision reached at the Feb. 26 board meeting was to vacate all the modulars at the end of the school year. There was fear by board members that the mold, which is encapsulated within the walls, could never be totally and permanently removed.

The issue remains how to replace the lost space. Two options are the most obvious for the board to initially explore. The first is to replace the modular classrooms with new portable classrooms. The up side of this solution is that it is the least expensive and will cost the district approximately $750,000 over a three- or four-year period of time. Approximately $200,000 would have to be taken out of the district’s $500,000 building maintenance budget each year for four years and the portables phased in.

The down side to this solution is that it will reduce by 40 percent the amount of money the district will have to spend on required maintenance of the other nine campuses and 1,000,000 square feet of building space. It also replaces “temporary” structures with other “temporary” structures which are more expensive to maintain and operate ($2-$3/square foot) than permanent buildings ($1.50-$1.75/square foot). Portable classrooms have a “life” expectancy of about 25 years, depending on how they are utilized. After that time, they need to be replaced.

The second option is to replace the modulars with a permanent bulding, which would be an add-on to the current Bordewich building. The down side to this solution is that it will cost approximately $3,750,000 to build and may necessitate passage of a bond.

The district anticipates that bonds could be issued without raising its current tax rate. Although this would not affect your tax bill now, it would mean that as bonds are retired in the next few years, the portion of your taxes that is going to the schools would remain the same and not be reduced as quickly.

The up side of this solution is that the permanent building would be less expensive to operate (heating and cooling); would enable the district to resolve the disjointed campus issues at the school, thus providing a safer environment for first- and second-graders; with relocation of Student Support Services from Seeliger to Bray, this solution could open space on the Seeliger campus, which is currently the largest elementary school in the district and continuing to grow each year.

With either solution, the students are going to have to be temporarily housed in various spaces, including some space rented by the district, until the issue is resolved.

The school district would like to hear from the citizens of Carson City. What would you like to see happen? Please call Mary Pierczynski, superintendent, or Mike Mitchell, director of operations, at 283-2100 or fax them at 283-2090. Their e-mail addresses are mpierczy@carson.k12.nv.us or mmitchell@carson.k12.nv.us.