By training employees in-house, the district saved money, avoiding having to negotiate contract. Specially trained school district workers were ahead of schedule Wednesday in their effort to clean and remove mold-contaminated furniture from Barnes Elementary School.
Alan Hagy of the custodial department in the Corpus Christi Independent School District is in charge of a crew of about 25 workers. He said the crew is more than halfway finished cleaning mold off furniture and equipment. Benito Reyes, the administrator overseeing the project, said the project has been going on for about two weeks, and workers have been putting in 10-hour days, six days a week. The workers, who underwent two days of training, are doing the preliminary work of cleaning mold before contractors enter the building to rebuild the school and create a new drainage system.
Scope of Job
The scope of the district workers’ job is to clean all the furniture and teachers’ personal items and move them to Smith and Montclair Elementary Schools, where students displaced by mold will attend class next school year. Reyes said the district saved money by training CCISD workers to clean the contents of the school, even though cost was not the primary concern. Getting the job done quickly was the most important factor to administration. “If we hired a company, we would have had to negotiate a contract,” Reyes said. “I think that would have been slower and more inefficient.” He said that using district workers, who volunteered for the job, allowed the work to continue without constant contract re-negotiations that would have likely occurred. “The more we get into it, the happier we are we did it in-house,” he said. “The icing on the cake is that it did save us money.”
Cost Less Than Contractor
Reyes said the overtime wages, which he estimated to be between $10,000 and $15,000, and cost of materials and training still would be less than the cost of a contractor, though he could not say how much a contractor might charge. “I know it is a lot more,” he said of hiring a contractor. “There is no doubt in my mind.”
When toxic mold of the aspergillus-penicillium and stachybotrys varieties was discovered in February, district officials sealed portions of the school. But administrators said in June that the problem was much more widespread than they thought. Superintendent Jesus H. Chavez said in a public meeting in June that the students would likely not return to the school until the 2003-2004 school year, when workers are expected to finish the job. Chavez said he did not know of any mold-related health problems.
The board has not yet approved a contractor for the reconstruction project at the 9-year-old school. Trustees will likely choose a contractor in August, said Eduardo Zuniga, assistant superintendent for business and support service.
Employees at Barnes will not be permitted to retrieve their personal effects and instructional supplies from the building because only trained employees wearing protective overalls and respirators are allowed in the building.
Written by Tim Eaton, Caller-Times