Archive for Tuesday, February 8, 2011

State inspectors will study air quality, look for signs of mold at Kennedy School

February 8, 2011, 10:33 a.m. Updated February 8, 2011, 6:31 p.m.


State environmental inspectors are expected to study air quality at Kennedy School by the end of the month, to answer concerns and assertions from a district-appointed task force that the school might have problems with mold.

While the concerns initially have been debunked through testing by a private firm, the upcoming work of experts from the Kansas Department of Labor will be expected to confirm the school’s safe-for-instruction conditions.

It’s either that, or raise concerns about both the short- and long-term viability of a school targeted for consolidation within the next three to five years.

“We’re being extra cautious, doing another test,” said Scott Morgan, a member of the Lawrence school board and co-chairman of the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force. “And we’ll respond accordingly.”

Members of a task force subcommittee filed a report last year detailing concerns about air quality at Kennedy. Among the concerns:

  • A “noticeable” musty smell upon entering the school.
  • “Noticeably discolored” floor air vents “that appear moldy.”
  • Windows with leakage problems, some allowing water to run behind bookcases and to the floor.
  • “Spongy” acoustic tiles present in one room.

“The district needs to develop a long-term plan for monitoring the indoor air quality of this school and remediating any problems that are detected,” the subcommittee said in a report to the full task force.

District officials then hired a private firm, META Consulting LLC to test the air both inside and outside the school, 1605 Davis Road. The firm concluded in October that the school had no problem and that there was no evidence of mold growing within the building.

“Laboratory results show that the mold spore count outdoors is about 10 times greater than the mold spore count indoors, which is considered to be within a normal range,” the firm concluded.

META Consulting did recommend removal of damp tiles and water-damaged carpets, and making other upgrades to prevent water from entering the school.

Those changes have been accomplished, with planning under way to make more significant repairs to the school’s roof to help prevent future water woes, said Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer.

“There are ongoing roof issues — and with all the snow we’ll be finding more of those — but we think we’ve addressed the concerns,” Harwood said. “We don’t think there is a safety issue, but since (the state) said they’d come in, we will have them come in.”

The state’s testing will be conducted as members of the task force are mulling recommendations for the future of the district’s 15 elementary schools.

Talk so far includes recommending consolidation of Kennedy and New York schools within the next three to five years. Students from those schools would be transferred into a single school: either into a remodeled and expanded existing school or into a new school, possibly at the site of the former East Heights School.

Administrators and consultants are busy studying such possibilities before the task force’s next meeting, set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. Recommendations are due to board members by the end of the month.


Shane Garrett 7 years, 1 month ago

How does one compare inside mold spore count to outside mold spore count during the winter? The October report would seem to be the more accurate.

Synjyn Smythe 7 years, 1 month ago

KDHE doesn't do mold? Then what's the use of them contacting KDHE? Does EPA know? If you are a teacher or staff member there, you should contact OSHA!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

"to answer concerns and assertions from a district-appointed task force that the school might have problems with mold."

Anything to shut down a public school....

kjh 7 years, 1 month ago

Wakarusa Valley has no mold. Or musty smell. Or spongy tiles. Just saying.....

GMom05 7 years, 1 month ago

and lots of natural light, a separate gym with stage, the largest kitchen in an elementary in this district, regular classrooms with four walls, a solar hot water heater, huge playground on 10 acres, good parking...just saying...

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Maybe the luxury USD 497 headquarters also has mold in the HVAC ducts.....

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 1 month ago

The next meeting is set for 5:30 on valentines day? Nice way to weed out those who would otherwise be there.

FormerTiger 7 years, 1 month ago

I've been in other elementary schools that have leaky roofs every year - they keep trying to tape them together, but they probably have mold problems in these buildings as well. It's time to invest in the elementary schools to ensure they are safe for children and staff.

It's interesting that Scott Morgan indicated "we're being extra cautious" as if he personally has something to do with having KDHE do more testing. KDHE must have received a complaint and are therefore requiring the district to go through another test. Otherwise, why would Harwood say "but since the state said they were coming in....". Please Mr. Morgan, don't make it sound like you had anything to do with it, and Harwood, shame on you for not encouraging the BOE to spend funds to take care of these buildings.

GMom05 7 years, 1 month ago

It will be interesting to see what they do if KDHE says the children have to leave for extensive remediation. If they were being "extra cautious" those kids wouldn't even be in the building now until it had a clean bill of health from KDHE.

Shane Garrett 7 years, 1 month ago

Water plus any paper product, or dirt will equal mold. The first step in preventing mold is to take care of any moisture problems. I have found this to be true in HVAC closets where improper condensation has caused mold growth on the back sheetrock wall. Dust collection on coils can lead to mold growth. I found that mold can grow even on metal parts when they are not properly cleaned. Mold grows outside naturally, it gets brought inside and the spores do what they are suppose to do, grow. Once the water and food source is removed then the mold will not grow. It will still be there along with the stems and flowering parts and if disturbed will migrate. This story is extreamly interesting as only Texas used to have state regulations for mold remediation. Now no insurance company will cover mold and the days of "mold is gold" are over.

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