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School deserves mention for courageous efforts   PDF  Print  E-mail 
Friday, 22 July 2005


Seattle, WA - A preliminary environmental report was ordered after Arbor Heights Elementary students complained of mysterious headaches, colds and other mold related symptoms showed evidence of mold in carpets, on wallboard and under portable classrooms at the school.  Mold was discovered in at least three rooms and a "moldy stench" was found in the library, psychologist's office and a few other rooms.

Although mold and water damage was found in the school, the interim report indicates that the problem is not as bad as parents feared, claims Joe Sharp, an Arbor Heights parent and member of a task force set up to address the issue.  "We think that all those things can be fixed," he said. "Everybody knew that there was a problem when they (the testing company) in. We fully expected him to find mold in places that the district didn't expect to find it."

But the building, Sharp said, is "basically OK. It's not so critical that they have to worry about tearing it down."

In a courageous and atypical move for most institutions, Seattle Public Schools already has begun repairs to address some of the problems raised in the report and has authorized more money to pay for a final study, a spokesman said.

The Arbor Heights PTA asked an independent air-quality consultant to study the school following student complaints of illnesses. 

The report, which was published earlier this month, details the report?s results by room, noting water stains, moisture in crawl spaces and odors.  More samples were taken at the school yesterday and are waiting for the results of blood tests from several students and teachers.

The interim report recommends additional testing for mold in the ceilings of six rooms, using water tolerant building materials, replacing roof drains, cleaning carpets and replacing the school's vacuums.

The school district has begun replacing water-damaged ceiling tiles, correcting plumbing problems and fixing roof drains, spokesman Peter Daniels said.

It also has asked an outside firm to address the problem of water pooling under portable classrooms; the district expects to receive a report with recommendations from the firm today, Daniels said.

"I think from the district's point of view we feel really good about the progress being made," he said.

The school district, which is paying for the investigation, recently agreed to pay for follow-up work, Daniels said.


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