Starke Elementary to reopen March 18 after mold is cleared
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 6:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 6:07 p.m.
Starke Elementary School, closed since Aug. 23 due to mold, will reopen March 18.
A building health report ordered over the summer by Bradford County Schools Superintendent Chad Farnsworth showed that the school had unacceptable air quality due to mold and mildew, and the report recommended that the students and faculty move elsewhere.
Farnsworth closed the school Aug. 23 after receiving the report. Students resumed classes Sept. 3 at alternate locations, including nearby schools, the Bradford County school district office and the Santa Fe College Stump Building.
Teachers are expected to return to Starke Elementary on March 17, following the district's spring break. Students will return the next day.
"School has been going fantastic in the alternate locations," Bradford County Schools spokesman Brian Graham said. "The students are extraordinarily resilient, the parents are very understanding and the teachers have been superb in the transition."
In an Oct. 10 letter to Farnsworth, architect Paul Stresing wrote that the assessment of Starke Elementary will be finished and recommendations made by Oct. 31.
Stresing wrote that his firm had already found the primary causes of the mold growth were "failed or compromised mechanical equipment, automated control, insufficient outside air ventilation and building pressure, and various breaches in the perimeter building thermal envelope."
Some new mechanical and ventilation equipment was ordered, he wrote.
Before, during and after installing the new equipment, the ductwork and interior of the school will be thoroughly cleaned by a licensed mold remediation contractor, directed by a mold assessment consultant. Air quality will be tested again after that process.
When the building passes inspection, it will be certified by an independent air quality testing company before students and faculty are allowed to return, Stresing wrote.
Getting Starke Elementary back into shape will cost $1.5 million to $2 million, Graham said.
The Bradford County school district allocated about $936,000 for the project, and it is taking an $850,000 loan to ensure the rest will be covered.
"We want to make sure we have enough funds to pay for the whole project," Graham said.
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