The Scranton School Board approved a plan that will allow students to continue attending classes at William Prescott Elementary School for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year during a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 22 at the elementary school.
The motion was approved following the release of a lab report by Guzek Associates Inc. that states that no area sampled within the school indicates the presence of active mold growth or an airborne microbial concern.
The plan of action was created by the Health & Safety Committee of the Board of Education in conjunction with Guzek Associates Inc., an environmental consultant hired by the district to investigate mold growth and air quality inside Prescott Elementary.
Based on analytical results we conclude that each of these facilities (are) acceptable for use, said Superintendent William King.
The approved plan of action also delegated the power to alter the duration of the current school day to King.
The district is considering lengthening each school day from Nov. 1 through the end of the year in order to achieve the state-required 900 instructional hours and conclude three weeks ahead of schedule. This would allow Guzek Associates Inc. more time over the summer break to take action that would permanently eliminate the current mold problem, including the complete removal of the cafeteria wall known to be contaminated.
If we extend the school day from 8:05 a.m. to 3 p.m. students could be excused by May 17, King said. We'd be starting 15 minutes earlier and getting out 25 minutes later with the new proposal.
The restructuring of the school day is still tentative and is expected to be voted on by the board at their regularly scheduled November meeting.
The plan also recommended continued monitoring of the elementary school throughout the year to ensure a safe learning environment.
The continued monitoring will include thorough cleaning, water damage inspections, removal and drying of water damaged areas and monitoring humidity levels.
Guzek plans to continue his inspection of the school over Christmas break.
Since the discovery of the mold last spring, Guzek Associates Inc. has issued other recommendations to the school including building a structure in the cafeteria that encloses the known, moldy area and reinforcing the exterior of the building where water was known to be entering.
Guzek said that thus far every action he has recommended to the school board has been successfully completed.
Jamie Hailstone, father of two children who attend Prescott Elementary, said he was satisfied with the job that the school district had done but that the issue hadn't yet seen its conclusion.
Thank you for taking a bad situation and making it better, Hailstone said. Parents want to continue to be a part of this process; we want the school to re-open.
Parents did express some concern over potential issues that an irregular school day, if approved, may create for them and their children. One mother asked what a parent would do if she had two children who were excused from different schools at the exact same time as a result of an altered schedule. King said there is no easy answer to those questions as of right now.
King said preliminary discussions have taken place concerning the possibility of establishing a three-week, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. program that could be put into place as a substitute for the final three weeks of the traditional school year in order to reduce the burden on parents.