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East County Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 2 years ago

Mold inspection begins at Lakewood Ranch High

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Inspector should release results before end of October.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

After shutting down Building 400 for mold remediation in August, the School District of Manatee County now is inspecting the rest of the Lakewood Ranch High School campus.

Tampa-based GHD, an environmental consulting firm, began a comprehensive mold assessment of Lakewood Ranch’s campus Oct. 4 and is expected to finish Oct 11. A report detailing other findings is expected by the end of the month.

“Mold is extremely prevalent in Florida, but it’s prevalent everywhere,” School District spokesman Mike Barber said. “Bottom line is if mold is visible, you need to do something about it. That’s how it’s being approached.”

Students and teachers moved back into the six classrooms in Building 400 on Oct. 1.

At an Aug. 30 information meeting with parents, district officials said mold may have been the result of turning air-conditioning units off on weekends, but all units will remain running until the reason for the mold has been determined.

Barber said Lakewood Ranch High has two operational chillers, but one needs replacing and the other sometimes needs repair. The district is in the process of securing bids for new chillers, which may take up to four months.

Some parents say the district’s efforts are not thorough enough. Bridget Mendel, who has two sons at the school, said she’s been concerned about mold on campus since last year, when her son came home with pictures of mold in Building 400. The district is inspecting for visible mold, but she said the mold issues could be more structural in nature and worries they will not be adequately addressed.

“We may have cleaned up the mold, but it doesn’t mean we’ve addressed the issue,” she said.

She said previous issues with mold were not addressed, and information from the district has been conflicting.

Barber said the district is working to ensure students and teachers are safe and the mold is remedied appropriately. GHD will evaluate structural issues, such as the roof, during its inspections.

“They’re not just trying to come in and just see the mold. They’re also trying to find out the cause,” Barber said. “We feel like we’re pretty thorough on this.”

Lakewood Ranch High School Principal Craig Little is posting updates on inspections to the school’s website.

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