Mold, lead paint threaten school openings in Cheltenham Twp., Pa.

August 7, 2013 8:16:22 PM PDT
With the start of school fast approaching, there are problems at two schools in the Cheltenham School District.

Authorities have discovered lead paint at one, and mold at the other.

Summer staff at Myers Elementary and Cedarbrook Middle have been relocated to safer areas.

You can see the construction fence surrounding Myers. Lead paint was discovered at this school, and we are hearing the problems here and at Cedarbrook could delay the start of the year for the schools.

Behind these walls of Cedarbrook Middle School in Cheltenham Township, district officials say mold has taken over spaces in many classrooms.

"Yes, it's disgusting, and of course calls to mind respiratory issues and some other health concerns that could come up. Cedarbrook is an old building. It probably needs to be renovated," said Trish Dougherty of Glenside.

The district says over the summer its facilities department thoroughly cleaned the building and found a minor presence of mold. But after the recent humidity spike, the fungus came back with a vengeance and spread.

"I just hope that somebody can take care of that, because that's not healthy for the kids. Not only for mine, but everyone else's," said parent Denise Gonzalez.

During a special board meeting Tuesday night, members voted to have an environmental company clean up the mold at a cost not to exceed $47,000.

But Cedarbrook wasn't the only school on the agenda.

Nearby Myers Elementary has been dealing with a water leak that forced the school to remove a lot of drywall.

Workers uncovered lead paint on the original brick walls of this older building. That cleanup will cost the district close to $35,000.

Brand new superintendent Dr. Natalie Thomas wrote in a letter to parents "for all of our schools and buildings, we will do what is right by our students, their families, and our staff. No building will be open to anyone until and unless it is certified safe and sound."

The issues with the two schools prompted the district to approve the hiring of an environmental engineer to perform an audit of all its buildings. Parents say, whatever it takes.

"Things do happen, you know. As long as we take action and the kids are safe, I'm okay," said Gonzalez.

School starts right after Labor Day. The district is hoping the cleanup will be done by then, but just in case it's getting a contingency plan together.


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