August 18, 2005 at 12:58 PM CDT - Updated July 26 at 5:55 PM
Toxic Mold Postpones School Year By: Arnold Wyrick
Campbell Hill, IL - Students, and teachers were supposed to be in the classrooms at TRICO Elementary on Wednesday, but instead there were only workers cleaning up toxic mold. So school district leaders decided to push the start of the school year back another week.
"We didn't want to go on a day to day basis closing the school. We just thought let's do if for a week, and everybody should be gone. And all the air samples should be back in a week, and okay," says TRICO Superintendent Dennis Smith.
That's what many parents are hoping for too, a clean bill of health for the school.
"I think it was needed, there's a lot of kids that suffer from allergies, and mold might be one of them. I know my children don't have allergies. But for kids that do, I think they need to get rid of the mold first before they let the kids back into that environment," says Denise Young of Ava.
Superintendent Smith says the school board did have the kids health in mind in deciding to postpone the start of the school year.
"Believe it or not there's a lot of disappointment with the kids who aren't going to get to start school on time. But when it comes to the safety of the kids and their health, it was an easy decision to make," Smith said.
Some students Heartland News talked with didn't seem to mind getting another week off from school.
"Well I'm looking forward to another week of fishing. And I think it's pretty good, because I don't have to go for another week," says Benjamin Thomas of Ava.
"Feels pretty good to have one more week off, but I'm probably going to have to work more. I've got more lawns to mow," says Clint Young of Ava.
If everything stays on schedule with the clean up of the toxic mold, students should be back in the classroom by August 24th. Then it's going to be a wait and see for the district if the mold was completely removed.
"We're just going to have to monitor it very closely, and hope that the staff will let us know if they see anything. So we can get on top of it before it gets out of control," Superintendent Smith said.
The school district is also going to have to figure out how to pay for the clean up cost. A figure that has soared much higher then the original estimate of $53,000.00 to $75,000.00 dollars.
"We're going to try to pay for that out of our Emergency Life Safety Fund, and we might have to use some of our Building Maintenance Fund. We aren't looking at having to tap into our Education Fund for the clean up," Smith said.
But the school district will still have to figure out how to make up this extra week off, once the school year begins.